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Meet PLOS Biology Senior Editor, Ines Alvarez-Garcia

Get to know the editor behind your manuscript! We’re continuing our new, monthly Meet-Your-Editor series with an interview from senior editor Ines Alvarez-Garcia.

Ines joined PLOS Biology in 2008 and enjoys collaborating with our community to help share their discoveries. She chats about her editorial career, proudest PLOS accomplishments, scientists that inspire her, and publishing advice for early career researchers.

What led you to this career?

A career in science is very tough and, around the time I joined PLOS, there were not many positions available if you didn’t want to lead a lab. I considered working as an editor because that would allow me to stay in close contact with science. When I started doing manuscript tests for available positions, I discovered that I enjoyed this time more than going back to the lab to finish my experiments. Adding to that the stressful and constant need to find lab grants, the choice to accept the offered editor role with PLOS Biology was an easy one.

In your work as a senior editor, what do you find especially rewarding? 

Leaving academia was a big step for me. I’ve always loved problem-solving and designing experiments to answer questions in science. But the experiments you do very often fail or lead to many other open questions, which pushed me away from my original question, and then, I was lost in the forest. 

When you do this job, you help scientists publish great stories that advance science, and that is very rewarding. In addition, every paper you read is on a different topic and the amount of learning and curiosity satisfaction (I am extremely curious!) is very high.

What is your proudest accomplishment in your time at PLOS?

Every time a paper that I handle is published, it’s a proud accomplishment. Of course, I have had my favorite papers over the years, but when I see them finally on our homepage as open access and accessible to everyone, it is always amazingly pleasing.

Ines’ Advice

What advice would you give early career researchers just starting to publish work in their field?

“If nobody can understand your science, the accomplishment won’t be as big. So try your best to tell the story in an accessible way for a broad audience and always ask other scientists outside your field, including non-native English speakers, to read the paper and to give you feedback before submitting it. If you follow this rule, you will have covered half of the path towards publication.”

Any scientists that inspired you growing up?

There are many great scientists that I admire, and I have been lucky enough to meet some of them personally – another big advantage of this career. Risking being unoriginal, I always found Darwin and his evolutionary theory mind-blowing when I heard about it. A bit closer to home, I feel so lucky to have had Nick Brown as my PhD supervisor. He was my role model for many years and his contagious enthusiasm for science and high ethics inspired me.

What is a topic in biology you wish you knew more about?

I find cognitive science fascinating, but very hard to understand. Knowing how we think, learn or behave is fundamental and can advance science immensely. I wish I would have the time to read more and learn about it. For the time being, I am grateful that we have an editor in house dedicated to handling papers in this topic.

What’s on your reading list for the PLOS Biology community?

In PLOS BiologyIn your local library
A widespread family of heat-resistant
obscure (Hero) proteins protect against
proteins instability and aggregation

by Yukihide Tomari and colleagues

The Renaissance of Developmental
biology

by Daniel St Johnston

Conservation and Divergence of
Regulatory Strategies at Hox Loci
and the Origin of Tetrapod Digits

by Denis Duboule and colleagues
The Hare With Amber Eyes
by Edmund de Waal

The Magic Mountain
by Thomas Mann

La Borra del Café
by Mario Benedetti

Petra Delicado series
by Alicia Giménez Bartlett

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