Skip to content

When you choose to publish with PLOS, your research makes an impact. Make your work accessible to all, without restrictions, and accelerate scientific discovery with options like preprints and published peer review that make your work more Open.


Meet PLOS Biology Associate Editor Luke Smith

This month, we chatted with Associate Editor Luke Smith. Luke joined PLOS Biology in June 2020 and handles submissions covering a range of topics including neurodegeneration, stem cell biology, physiology, and circadian rhythm studies. Learn more about his thoughts on Open Science, professional advice for researchers, and how he prefers to start his day.

What specific background and expertise do you bring to PLOS Biology?

I have a somewhat multidisciplinary background, with a B.S. in Biology and Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences. My thesis work focused on the systemic regulation of brain aging. I now handle a fairly diverse subset of papers for the journal, spanning topics that include stem cell biology, neurodegeneration, physiology, and circadian rhythms.

At what time in your career did you start thinking about Open Science, and why is it important to you?

The first time I encountered the idea of Open Science was probably in college when I ran into my first paywall to access a paper that I needed to read for a class. Later, I learned that Open Science is much broader than just open access publishing. As a researcher, I saw firsthand how critical the sharing of ideas, resources, and data was for the progression of my own work. I think that Open Science is important not only because it helps researchers, but also because it allows for deeper engagement with science by students and members of the public.

What aspect of PLOS’s mission motivates you the most?

Following on the point above, I think PLOS’s focus on promoting Open Science is most motivating to me, as it befits science and researchers, and facilitates the sharing of knowledge. It helps promote collective understanding of the world around us, which is the thing that most motivates me about working in science.

What’s the best piece of professional advice you ever received that you would pass on to early-career researchers?

A piece of advice I received early in my career was that I should take advantage of the opportunities around me. I think that is probably useful advice at any stage of one’s career, however I found it particularly useful when starting my Ph.D. That attitude led me to seek collaborations, which helped my research, but also to join different career development clubs, and try different things such as teaching and reviewing articles, experiences that sparked my interest in science writing and publishing. I would encourage people early in their career to advocate for themselves and to pursue opportunities that interest and excite them.

A piece of advice I received early in my career was that I should take advantage of the opportunities around me.

How do you prefer to start your day?

I usually try to start my day by walking my dog ‘Barb’ around Stowe Lake in Golden Gate Park. Then I make a huge pot of coffee before sitting down to check my email and get started on the day.  

Is there a scientist that inspired you the most growing up?

Yes — my high school biology teacher, David Ely. Growing up in a small town in Vermont, I had never considered the idea of a career in science until I took Mr. Ely’s AP Biology class. In that class, I fell in love with Biology and found it incredibly exciting to develop understanding and ask questions about the biological world around me. Mr. Ely was a very inspiring and rigorous teacher who stimulated thoughtful discussions. Without the positive experience of his class, I would likely never have considered studying biology in college, which has now snowballed into a career in science.

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

In PLOS BiologyIn your local library
APOE Stabilization by Exercise Prevents Aging Neurovascular Dysfunction and Complement Induction

 G1/S cell cycle regulators mediate effects of circadian dysregulation on tumor growth and provide targets for timed anticancer treatment

High-coverage plasma lipidomics reveals novel sex-specific lipidomic fingerprints of age and BMI: Evidence from two large population cohort studies

 A proteomic atlas of senescence-associated secretomes for aging biomarker development

“The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien
“The Shipping News” by Annie Proulx
“Headwaters” by Ellen Bryant Voigt
“Calvin and Hobbes: The Days Are Just Packed” by Bill Watterson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add your ORCID here. (e.g. 0000-0002-7299-680X)

Related Posts
Back to top