Professors Rebecca Vega Thurber and Robert J. Toonen to lead PeerJ Open Advances in Marine Biology as Co-Editors-in-Chief

by | Sep 7, 2023 | Announcement, Open Advances in Marine Biology

It is with great excitement that we can announce that Professors Rebecca Vega Thurber and Robert J. Toonen will form the editorial leadership team of PeerJ Open Advances in Marine Biology as Co-Editors-in-Chief.

As highly distinguished and respected scientists working at the forefront of their fields, Rob and Rebecca will provide the scientific leadership for the journal, recruiting an Editorial Board to work with them to define the ‘Global Challenges’ which the journal will address.

Rebecca Vega Thurber is a microbial ecologist and coral reef scientist, and is currently Pernot distinguished chair of microbiology at Oregon State University. She is a team leader of the Tara Pacific oceanic research expedition, studying coral reefs and plastic pollution. Rebecca’s lab investigates how bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms interact with and regulate marine ecosystems, with current projects focused on tropical reefs in French Polynesia and the Caribbean. 

After completing her PhD at Stanford, Rebecca’s postdoctoral research at San Diego State University uncovered that corals contain unique assemblages of viruses that are involved in mediating coral reef health. Collaborations with marine ecologists such as Deron Burkepile and Erinn Muller led to the discovery of major roles that microbial assemblages play in coral reef environments. As well as being a Professor at OSU, Rebecca is a member of the NSF Long Term Ecological Research Network in Mo’orea, Tahiti. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, and been cited over 20,000 times.

“Confidence and trust in science requires that it be evaluated rigorously and ethically. While there has been a remarkable and wonderful expansion of science endeavours across our planet, the dissemination of these studies is currently hindered by a lack of transparency in the peer review process and the escalating costs of Open Access. At the same time, never has research on the causes and consequences of disturbances in marine systems been as essential for humanity to preserve, conserve, and stabilise biodiversity on our planet now and for future generations. A fully fee-free Open Access journal can provide a tool to increase access – both at the reader and author levels – to high quality science that tackles the biggest threats to marine ecosystems today. While we face massive challenges in marine science today, there remain huge opportunities for innovation and collaboration to better understand the marine realm and how we can be better stewards of its resources. As Editor-in-Chief of PeerJ Open Advances in Marine Biology, I aim to help increase the diversity and accessibility of research that pushes the boundaries of marine science and that integrates multiple types of knowledge and tools to identify new and impactful solutions to the global marine habitat crisis” – Rebecca Vega Thurber 

Robert J. Toonen is a Research Professor at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai’i. His current research focuses on the processes that influence dispersal and recruitment in coastal marine invertebrates, with a particular interest in the evolutionary consequences of larval developmental modes among Hawaiian coral reef species. Rob’s general approach to research is from an ecological perspective, to scale up from genes to individuals to populations, and ultimately to the micro- and macro-evolutionary consequences of the processes being studied.

After completing his PhD in Richard Grosberg’s lab at UC Davis, Rob joined the faculty at the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology in 2003. Rob’s research includes such diverse studies as jellyfish feeding behavior, chemical defenses of coral reef sponges, genetic structure and patterns of dispersal in corals, coral bleaching, invasive species biology, connectivity and marine protected area design, cues for larval settlement, modeling of optimal larval settlement behavior, population genetics and phylogenetics of marine invertebrates, conservation genetics of charismatic megafauna (such as sharks, sea turtles and marine mammals), and marine ornamental culture & aquarium science. He has published over 200 peer reviewed articles, and been cited over 18,000 times.

“I am excited to be part of this new initiative for fee-free Open Access publishing of impactful research. By removing the fee barrier to both authors and readers, outstanding research addressing some of the most significant global challenges facing our world’s oceans will be available to researchers across the globe. Removing the fee barrier will also foster collaboration and innovation through inclusion of knowledge systems and world views that have historically been excluded from scientific publications. It is exciting to be part of this new venture aimed at accessible and equitable dissemination of cutting-edge research to make positive changes to the global marine environment” – Robert J. Toonen

The Open Advances series at PeerJ will take on a crucial responsibility: combining the prioritization of research that tackles global challenges head-on, with an equitable approach that ensures every researcher has an equal opportunity to contribute to answering critical questions in their field. During the Ocean Decade, Open Advances in Marine Biology will also aim to contribute to “the science we need for the ocean we want”.

The journal’s focus on the most important global challenges in marine biology means that its scope will evolve as questions are answered, new avenues of investigation are discovered and new challenges facing marine research are identified. Rebecca and Rob will work closely with the Editorial Board to identify the challenges that the journal will tackle, and oversee the creation of an evidence base which will address those challenges.

Stephen Johnson, Publishing Editor for the Open Advances series, said “Becky and Rob are a great leadership team for this new journal and I am looking forward to seeing how the editorial board and Global Challenges develop as we prepare to start taking submissions.”

At PeerJ, we believe in empowering scholars to address the most pressing issues of our time, and that starts with removing barriers to equitable access to scientific communication, and allowing the expert community to determine and drive the scope and focus of the work they publish. With Rob and and Rebecca at the helm, we are excited to see what challenges the journal takes on, and the progress it makes in addressing them.

As for all journals in the Open Advances Series, PeerJ Open Advances in Marine Biology has a commitment to always be fee-free for both authors and readers. We want to ensure that research addressing the most important issues of the day is freely accessible to all to read, and that its authors face no financial barriers to their publication.

If you’re interested in being considered for the Editorial Board of Open Advances, you can send us your details here. If you’d like to keep up to date with the latest from the journal or the Series, you can sign up here.

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