Early-career advisory group

The working scientists who serve as eLife editors, our early-career advisors, governing board, and our executive staff all work in concert to realise eLife’s mission to accelerate discovery.

Early-career advisory group

  1. Margarita Calvo

    Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Chile

    I studied medicine in Chile in the early 2000s and then moved to the UK for an MSc. My thesis was my first experience in a “wet lab” and I loved it. I did a PhD in neuroscience at King’s College London under the supervision of Prof David Bennett. Following 3 years postdoc in London I moved back to my home country Chile. Here I set my own lab and continue working in investigating mechanisms of chronic pain. It has been a challenge to move countries, especially going to a place where research is less developed. However, it has been fun and I have particularly enjoyed creating networks of scientists in Latin America. I think helping each other is the best way we can move forward as a region.

    Immunology and Inflammation
    Research focus
  2. Alecia Carter

    Alecia Carter

    CNRS / Université de Montpellier, France

    I am a behavioural ecologist passionate about ethics in academia, open science and baboon behaviour.

    I love science, but over my short career thus far I have become increasing disillusioned with academia: there is often a mismatch between what makes a good scientist and what makes a successful academic. I want this to change, and I’m working to change it.

    I would love the scientific community to value all aspects of being an academic. This includes reviewing, editing, mentoring, training, teaching, and communicating not just scientific results in papers, but also scientific products including datasets, software, and communication tools. I want these to be open and freely available to all, not just the elite scientific community with the funded libraries.

    I want researchers to be judged on how good their science is, not on how lucky they were to get the right editor or the right reviewers to get into the ‘right’ journal. When I tell someone that my latest research has been published, I want them to ask, “What?” not “Where”. I believe we can do this by changing what we value, and valuing a collegial, holistic approach to science.

    You can follow Alecia on twitter @alecia_carter

    Research focus
    behavioral ecology
  3. Jason Gallivan

    Jason Gallivan

    Queen's University, Canada

    I am an Assistant Professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I am interested in the cognitive and neural mechanisms that support human perception and action. In particular, my research investigates how the brain represents decisions and intentions related to actions (e.g., reaching, grasping, eye movements), the objects that we interact with, and how our memory systems are utilized to support sensorimotor processes. In sum, I am interested in understanding how the brain orchestrates goal-directed actions on the world. To study this, my research employs a wide range of methods, including human functional MRI, brain stimulation techniques and behavioural psychophysics.

    Given the highly competitive nature of today’s academic job market, the pressure for trainees (i.e., graduate students and postdoctoral fellows) to publish their research in top-tier journals, both frequently and often, is immense. For this reason, top-tier scientific journals that promote speedy editorial and referee reviews, that discourage the endless cycles of revision-and-resubmission, and that provide explicit, unambiguous feedback on what exactly is required to get one’s work published are of, I believe, the utmost importance.

    Such journal editorial policies should be encouraged and embraced and I would like to see, within reason, more journals adopt this ‘scientist-centric’ mandate as an integral component of their publishing model. Indeed, for all of the challenges that scientists today face (e.g., securing highly competitive grant/award funding, maintaining an appropriate work-life balance, etc.), publishing one’s research in well-respected journals need not be as time consuming and onerous as it currently is.

    You can contact Jason at jasongallivan /at/ gmail.com. For more information see his lab website.

    Research focus
    behavioural neuroscience
  4. Laurent Gatto

    University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

    I am a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, where I lead the Computational Proteomics Unit. I am an avid open research advocate and make very possible effort to make my research reproducible. I am a Software Sustainability Institute fellow and a Data/Software Carpentry instructor and a member of OpenConCam, our local OpenCon group. My current open researcher activities focus on the Wellcome Trust Open Research Project, where we explore the barriers to open research, and the Bullied Into Bad Science campaign, an initiative by and for early career researchers who aim for a fairer, more open and ethical research and publication environment.

    For more information see Laurent's personal website https://lgatto.github.io/

    Computational and Systems Biology
    Research focus
    computational biology
  5. Vinodh Ilangovan

    Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Germany

    I am a research fellow at department of Genes and Behavior, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Goettingen, Germany. I study biological clocks and sleep using an integrative approach by combining molecular genetics, neural circuits, animal behavior and evolutionary biology. I am also a Max Planck Open Access Ambassador and strongly advocate for the practice of responsible behaviors in scientific research. At eLife Early Career Advisory Group, I like to experiment with novel forms of science communication and explore the use of meaningful metrics to evaluate research integrity throughout research cycle as well as reproducible nature of different research output.

    You can follow Vinodh on twitter @InquisitiveVi

    Evolutionary Biology
    Research focus
    circadian rhythms/sleep
    animal models of human disease and behavioural sciences
    neural circuits
  6. Melissa Kapulu

    Melissa Kapulu

    KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya and Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, UK, Kenya

    In the pursuit to be heard and to relate ones achievements, there is need for one to write, show and tell. Thus unique, open-source and innovative platforms are essential for more importantly information sharing. My scientific journey thus far has seen me do research on understanding immune responses to oral vaccination and infectious insult, pre-clinical development of malaria transmission-blocking vaccines and currently understanding the epidemiology of malaria transmission from man to mosquitoes. All of this work, in some form has ended up in a write, show and tell. The need as an early career scientist to be engaged in the design and implementation of one’s scientific journey is of utmost and paramount importance. To be able to share not just the dynamic output of one’s laboratory adventures but also to share the other aspects of that journey, experience with funding, grant writing and management, work-life balance amongst others. This path so far has seen me grow not only scientifically but also personally and allow myself to be challenged beyond my borders.

    Getting involved to be a voice and be heard is what being part of the eLife early careers advisory group is all about. Ensuring that the “struggles” and “pressures” to write, show and tell are made known and to share what these are is my motivation to be part of such a dynamic group.

    You can follow Melissa on twitter @melissakapulu or contact her via email melissakapulu /at/ gmail.com

    Epidemiology and Global Health
    Immunology and Inflammation
    Research focus
  7. Brianne Kent

    University of British Columbia, Canada

    I am particularly interested in whether changes in sleep patterns and bodyweight can be used as reliable biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease, and whether chronobiology can provide a useful framework for developing inexpensive and noninvasive methods for slowing disease progression. I aspire to have an academic career committed to scientific discovery, translation of biomedical research, public communication, and policy advising

    I have been actively involved in raising awareness of the need for open access, post-publication peer review, and the life sciences to embrace electronic archives. Previously at the University of Cambridge, I have worked with the Graduate Student and Postdoc forum (GRASP) to organize events that encourage critical debate about the publishing culture in the life sciences and started a student group called ‘Standing up for science’ to inspire young researchers to get involved in the open science movement and change the way science is disseminated. To help motivate change beyond Cambridge, I have written critiques of the publishing system in the University World News, Huffington Post, University Affairs, and BlueSci – Cambridge Science Magazine.

    I hope that the early-career advisory group will help eLife develop an improved publishing platform. Most scientists are in agreement that the system is flawed but there is an encouraging momentum of positive change and I am grateful that journals like eLife are listening to and valuing the needs of researchers.

    You can follow Brianne on twitter @brianne_kent

    Research focus
    alzheimer's disease
    circadian rhythms/sleep
  8. Babak Momeni

    Boston College, United States

    I started my career as an electrical engineer (BSc EE ‘99 and MSc EE ’01, Sharif University of Technology). I ventured then into integrated optics and photonics (MS Physics ’07 and PhD EE ’07, Georgia Institute of Technology) and worked on developing synthetic optical materials to build on-chip spectrometers. Intrigued by the potentials and challenges of biology, in 2009 I joined the Shou lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where my research focused on microbial communities. I have been a group leader at Boston College since 2015. Throughout my career, the motivation has been the same simple curiosity to figure out how things work and then to use that knowledge to build new things.

    Navigating through training and research in technology and science, I have come to appreciate the importance of efficient communication of knowledge. While communication among experts is clearly necessary, the impact of reaching out to others outside that group of experts should not be underestimated. This outreach will enable interdisciplinary collaborations with experts in other fields and will additionally engage the general public – both essential for sustainable progress of science.

    I believe a platform of knowledge exchange that offers everyone, expert or not, easy access and an opportunity to learn, assess, and contribute is an important step. Such a platform requires an unbiased and constructive environment for presenting scientific findings; more effective measures for cataloging and structuring the information; exploring new ways to reach out to a broader audience; and encouraging and investing in efforts that facilitate science accessibility.

    You can follow Babak on twitter @bmomeni

    Research focus
    community ecology
  9. Jeanne Salje

    Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Thailand

    The world in which we do scientific research is rapidly changing. Social media, open-access publishing and the rise of free online university-level courses are making scientific communication more rapid, more global and, importantly, more egalitarian than ever before.

    In response, we the scientific community need to adapt the way we communicate with each other and with the general public in order to take advantage of these new opportunities.

    As a research scientist studying fundamental questions about the biology of bacterial human pathogens, based in tropical South East Asia, I am able to interact closely with frontline clinical research on the epidemiology and public health aspects of infectious tropical diseases, while staying connected with developments in basic bacterial cell biology from other parts of the world. This would have been much more difficult just a few years ago.

    I am excited about the opportunities and technologies that now exist to bring experts from different fields together to tackle important cross-cutting scientific problems, and I am enthusiastic about being involved in facilitating some of these changes as part of the eLife team.

    You can follow Jeanne on twitter @jsalje or contact her at jeanne.salje /at/ ndm.ox.ac.uk

    Microbiology and Infectious Disease
    Research focus
    bacterial cell biology
  10. Benjamin Schwessinger

    Australian National University, Australia

    My work experience on four different continents over the last 10 years provides me with unique insights of how science is performed globally. We often assume an universally valid approach to the scientific inquiry and a just evaluation of scientific 'excellence'. Yet there are significant systemic biases and structural roadblocks that prevent the scientific enterprise to perform at its maximal capacity. As community we need to level the playing field, diversify, and make science accessible for everyone. We will only be able to achieve long lasting changes by continuous inclusive community efforts. Changes are coming and they are real. Open access, preprints, science communication, unions (e.g. UAW5810), community efforts (e.g. future of research), protocol sharing websites (e.g. github, protocols.io), new publishing platforms (e.g. eLife, PeerJ, F1000), and political involvement of scientific societies, all contribute to this change towards a more forward looking and open minded community.

    I focus my research on plant-microbe interactions, biochemical signal transduction mechanisms, genomics and host-microbe co-evolution. My general research interest is driven by the desire to understand communication at a molecular level within an organism, between individual species, and within a given ecosystem. Over the years with the advancement of sequencing technologies I have become intrigued of how these interspecies communications evolve and in turn influence evolution. I am currently working on how the genomic architecture of dikaryotic fungi, meaning two haploid nuclei within a single cell, facilitates the tremendous success of this group of plant pathogens in agricultural ecosystems.

    I am excited to be an active part of the eLife community and the early career advisory group. This is an unique opportunity to collaborate on a global level and push for a better scientific future for everyone. There is much to gain for everyone by being more open and collaborative. I hope the insight I gained during my times as postdoc union organizer at the University of California and member of the future of research movement will be beneficial for the wider eLife community. I am driven by conviction and happy to share my experience with using preprints, twitter and other online tools to communicate ones research output within the scientific community and with society.

    Currently, I complement my involvement with ECGA with efforts to improve equity issues at the departmental level as equity committee member. Because reproducible science is close to my heart due to hard earned personal experience, I am an ambassador of the exciting open access protocol sharing website protocols.io.

    You can follow Benjamin on twitter @schwessinger and his blog at https://blushgreengrassatafridayafternoon.wordpress.com/

    Plant Biology
    Research focus
    plant microbe interactions and signaling
    biochemical signal transduction networks
    host-microbe interactions
  11. Sonia Sen

    University of Oregon, United States

    I am a postdoc at the University of Oregon. I am fascinated by how the genome executes the assembly of functional neural circuits in complex brains and, as a result, enables the wide repertoires of animal behaviours. I am also drawn by how complex brains have evolved. The vast diversity of marine life represents some of the earliest branching animals. In the future, I would love to study the diverse nervous systems of marine animals and, with the help of recent advances in genome editing, study the molecular genetics of their development.

    I have come to learn that science is as much about effective communication as it is about the science itself. This involves disseminating our ideas and findings not just amongst our peers, but amongst a broader audience as well. And especially because of the way in which science is funded – to a large extent by governments and non-profit organisations – I believe that its communication must necessarily be egalitarian.

    There is a huge opportunity for us to bring this about, especially in today’s world of communication. I am very excited that as a community we are rethinking our ideas of science communication and I am certain that it will spur new scientists to more boldly pursue their diverse interests. I believe that we are at the brink of change and I see, particularly for the complex Indian environment, the scope for world-class science rooted in our ecology as well as science that is relevant to India.

    Contact: soniasen /at/ uoregon.edu

    Developmental Biology
    Research focus
    developmental neurobiology
  12. Emmanuelle Vire

    University College London - MRC Prion Unit - UCL Institute for Neurology, United Kingdom

    I have been a junior team leader at UCL since 2015. I have always been intrigued by the fact that genes can be expressed or not, switched on or off depending on the biological requirements, and how this works in diseases.

    I completed my PhD at Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. My work focused on the understanding of molecular connections between DNA methylation and histone modifications and their interplay in cancer. I decided to stay in the chromatin field and joined the lab of Prof. Tony Kouzarides as a post-doc in 2008. In Cambridge worked on non-coding RNAs in breast cancer and gained extensive expertise in gene expression analysis and changes between normal and pathological situations.

    My post-doc was not only been a wonderful scientific journey; it has also helped me to better understand the challenges that early-careers scientists are facing on a daily basis. Expatriation, funding, publications, career options and work-life balance are important factors that can affect young researcher’s paths.

    I decided to join the eLife early careers advisory group to contribute to the future of the scientific community, while ensuring the respect of fairness, transparency and quality of scientific communication.

    Contact: e.vire /at/ prion.ucl.ac.uk

    Cancer Biology
    Research focus
    noncoding RNA