Lucerna: ‘Light up Your Mind’

That stellar research paper you wrote for class does not have to be forgotten after you receive an “A” for it. You can also submit it to Lucerna, UMKC’s undergraduate research journal. Since 2005, students have been sending in their papers to be considered and published in this prestigious collection, the title of which is Latin for “lamp.” Honors students staff the journal, but any undergraduate can submit work.

The journal’s director, Dr. Gayle Levy, is adamant about the advantages of reading and participating in this annual collection. She maintains that it is an excellent opportunity to see what your colleagues have been working on. Aside from simply reading it, there are benefits to submitting one’s own work. Levy made it clear that Lucerna is a legitimate publication worth any student’s time.

“The payoff is great” Levy said. “It’s a publication. Graduate schools love to see how motivated this student is, even as an undergrad.”

Levy explained that Lucerna desires papers from every discipline. The usual subjects of submissions are history, the social sciences, English, biology and health sciences and foreign language. There have been quite a few math papers as well.

“What I would really love to see is something from the business school,” Levy said.

In just the latest volume, the range of topics include the empowerment of music education, the health of our female veterans, a study on the leading members of the “beat” generation, and a paper on the French-Algerian War, which is written entirely in French.

These papers represent the best undergraduate research at our university. For a submission to be accepted, excellence is desired.

“[We’re looking for] a paper that has an interesting argument, that is clearly laid out, well supported and well written,” Levy said.

Co-editors-in-chief Leanna Cates and Abigail Pang are the leaders of the upcoming edition. They are part of a team of honors students who read the 30-50 annual submissions and decide which will to make the cut. They also helped organize a symposium for the journal, where the authors of several of the papers speak about their works.

Along with the writing and research talent, these are people who are genuinely interested in what they are writing about.

The co-editors-in-chief confirmed that their own writing skills have improved since working with the journal, reading and reviewing submissions.  Regardless of major, any honors student is encouraged to join the staff, and every undergraduate is encouraged to submit work.

Lucerna is a forum through which students can continue to strive for excellence, be published and feel legitimized. They pursue knowledge, as opposed to waiting to be fed.

“These are scholars, not just students,” Cates said.

Students can pick up a copy of Lucerna in the Administrative Center room 348, or download it online.

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