Announcing the PeerJ Section Editors leading our community-driven editorial reboot

Earlier this month we announced the introduction of Section Editors to our editorial model to encourage community-led oversight and facilitate editorial development. We are pleased to announce ten confirmed sections below along with the names and profiles of our newly-appointed Section Editors.

EcologyDezene Huber and Ann Hedrick
Biodiversity and ConservationPatricia Gandini and David Roberts
Zoological ScienceMichael WinkJennifer Vonk, and Nigel Andrew
Bioinformatics and GenomicsKeith Crandall and Elena Papaleo
Aquatic BiologyRob Toonen and James Reimer
MicrobiologyValeria Souza and Siouxsie Wiles
Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular BiologyVladimir Uversky and Pedro Silva
Plant BiologyJeff Ross Ibarra and Sheila McCormick
Brain and CognitionStephen Macknik and Claire Fletcher Flinn
Paleontology and Evolutionary ScienceLaura Wilson and Andy Farke

We will be featuring more commentary and in-depth features on our sections in coming weeks. We caught up with a few of the Section Editors and asked them about their research background, wider context on developments in their Section, and their thoughts on the future of scholarly communication.


Ecology

Dezene Huber and Ann Hedrick

Tell us a bit about yourself

Dezene Huber: I am a professor in the Ecosystem Science and Management Program at the University of Northern British Columbia. My research program is in insect ecology generally. More specifically, much of my work over the past many years has been on bark beetle infestation ecology and related functional genomics. I also have a research interest in insect-plant interactions and tree chemical defences more generally. More recently I have been studying (mainly local) aquatic entomology, including the use of DNA barcoding and environmental DNA (eDNA).

we need to find a good balance between speed of disseminating results…and being able to take the time to deeply assess data and contemplate results

Can you provide a bit of context into some recent developments in Ecology? What are some emerging areas of study for the Ecology community?

DH: The beauty of ecological research is that the deeper frameworks developed over decades can inform novel inquiry and can use either traditional or novel field and lab tools. I am particularly interested in the growth of urban ecological research, and in the use of genomics-based tools such as eDNA.

Any recent standout PeerJ papers you’d like to highlight?

Too big to be noticed: cryptic invasion of Asian camel crickets in North American houses by Epps et al. – A cool citizen science-based project that highlights the fact that even when we’re indoors, we are interacting with interesting (and often not-very-well-understood) life all around us.

Quantifying the effectiveness of shoreline armoring removal on coastal biota of Puget Sound by Lee et al. – A nice study relating to human impacts and mitigation/restoration in an urban or semi-urban habitat.

The impact of an invasive ambrosia beetle on the riparian habitats of the Tijuana River Valley, California by John Boland – a simple but robust study showing how an experienced natural historian using simple techniques can effectively document change in an ecosystem – in this case, the establishment of a potentially damaging exotic insect.

What needs more attention in scholarly publishing today?

DH: Ultimately we need to find a good balance between speed of disseminating results to the larger scientific community (facilitated by preprints, an efficient peer review process, etc), and being able to take the time to deeply assess data and contemplate results within that same community. We are building more and better tools to help with the former (speed), but I worry that the latter (contemplation) is falling out of style to some extent.


Bioinformatics and Genomics

Keith Crandall and Elena Papaleo

Tell us a bit about yourself

Keith Crandall: I currently direct the Computational Biology Institute at George Washington University and my research program is centered around developing and testing computational approaches to DNA sequence analyses. Many of these approaches have been phylogenetic in nature, but now are moving more and more into genomic and metagenomic analyses. We’ve applied our methods to natural study systems with a special focus on crustaceans (freshwater crayfish in particular) and human health systems with a special focus on HIV evolution. I’ve been an editor at PeerJ since its inception and became interested in the Section Editor concept after working with PeerJ to develop a Bioinformatics Collection to focus articles related to bioinformatics.

Can you provide a bit of context into some recent developments in Bioinformatics and Genomics? 

KH: Bioinformatics and Genomics remain THE hot field attracting talent from multiple disciplines to build exciting tools to generate, interpret, and analyze the next-generation of omics data. Especially exciting these days (at least to me) are approaches for metagenomic analyses, approaches that try to disentangle the millions of reads from an environmental sample and make sense of those. As we push these methods, the insights and applications are really limitless.

Any recent standout PeerJ papers you’d like to highlight?

KH: We continue to highly recent papers we think are quite exciting and that the community is excited about (by virtue of their views and citations) in the PeerJ Bioinformatics Tools Collection: https://peerj.com/collections/45-bioinformatics-software/

What needs more attention in scholarly publishing today?

KH: I really love the PeerJ model. But for it to really work, we need academics to give up the ‘impact’ focus and move more toward a ‘citation/view’ focus, that is, to look at the impact of the article rather than the journal where it is published. This is especially difficult for younger faculty as it takes time to build citations and views and universities are less and less patient these days.


Aquatic Biology

Rob Toonen and James Reimer

Tell us a bit about yourself

James Reimer: I am Associate Professor at the University of the Ryukyus and I am interested mainly in 1) the diversity, ecology, and evolution of understudied marine invertebrates, and 2) how coastal development and other anthropogenic pressures influence marine biodiversity (including understudied marine invertebrates).

I have been at PeerJ since 2015. I think every academic needs some kind of journal “home”, and as an active editor at PeerJ, I feel invested in making this journal work as well as possible. It was a pretty easy sell for me to join as a Section Editor.

Can you provide a bit of context into some recent developments in Aquatic Biology? What are some emerging areas of study for the Aquatic Biology community?

JH: Personally, I find the field of environmental DNA to be an exciting and powerful tool that could help marine biologists like myself in our ability to detect unknown taxa and evaluate the impacts from environmental changes (both natural and anthropogenic). I think one major challenge going forward is our ability to acquire real-time in situ environmental data across a wide range of parameters – our ability to examine the genetics and genomics of animals seems to have outstripped our ability to measure in a cost-effective way micro-environments.

Every time scientists have had new abilities and methods to examine biodiversity, the results seem to always be more complex than had been thought

It has been very rare that the ability for us to measure both biodiversity and the environment in greater detail has resulted in things being simpler than we had thought. Every time scientists have had new abilities and methods to examine biodiversity, the results seem to always be more complex than had been thought. The ocean and its ecosystems are incredibly complex, and we have much (very much) yet to learn.

Any recent standout PeerJ papers you’d like to highlight?

Quantifying the effectiveness of shoreline armoring removal on coastal biota of Puget Sound by Lee et al.

High-resolution modeling of thermal thresholds and environmental influences on coral bleaching for local and regional reef management by Kumagai et al.

Unraveling the structure and composition of Varadero Reef, an improbable and imperiled coral reef in the Colombian Caribbean by Pizarro et alPeerJ 5:e4119

What needs more attention in scholarly publishing today?

JH: We are facing increasingly dire predictions about marine ecosystems, and have at the same time increasingly powerful analytical tools at our disposal to investigate the marine realm. We need to have rapid and transparent publication of data – online journals that meet rigorous academic standards can help accelerate and improve upon the traditional printed system. I think this is common knowledge, but it is quite exciting to be an active participant in changing how science is published.


Paleontology and Evolutionary Science

Laura Wilson and Andy Farke

Tell us a bit about yourself

Laura Wilson: I’m an academic researcher at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney. My research focuses mainly on mammals and seeks to understand how developmental patterns have evolved, the factors that have shaped these patterns on a macroevolutionary scale, and how modifications to growth and development influence the potential of a clade/group to evolve (evolvability). I have served as an Editor at PeerJ since 2014, and over the last years I’ve witnessed the platform expand and evolve. As PeerJ grows I think it’s important to retain a sense of community to balance discipline-level recognition within the broad-level impact of a multidisciplinary open access journal, and I think the idea of introducing Section Editors is a great way to deal with that.

Any recent standout PeerJ papers you’d like to highlight?

The oldest Archaeopteryx (Theropoda: Avialiae): a new specimen from the Kimmeridgian/Tithonian boundary of Schamhaupten, Bavaria by Oliver W.M. Rauhut, Christian Foth, and Helmut Tischlinger.

One issue that needs more attention in scholarly publishing today?

LH: I think unconscious bias remains a significant challenge to widening participation in science, in general. Improvements at the level of scholarly publishing are as critical as those needed in other areas to redress this imbalance.

 

 

1 Response

  1. GeneMaster says:

    How come there is no section for Genetics and Molecular genetics?