We are pleased to welcome two new Editors to the Proceedings B editorial board. Professor John Hutchinson from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London and Professor Sarah Brosnan from the Department of Psychology, Georgia State University have both started their terms on 1st January 2019. Both have previously served as Associate Editors for the journal. We recently asked them both a few questions about their background, experience and their thoughts on how to get your work published.

 

John Hutchinson

Tell us more about your field of research?
I study the evolution of biomechanical systems, focusing mainly on the musculoskeletal apparatus and its role in the terrestrial locomotion of vertebrates. I am interested in how biomechanics constrains and otherwise influences evolution, and how those factors have evolved. I use an integration of experimental, anatomical and computational approaches to determine how organisms function and estimate how major evolutionary transitions in function happened. With collaborators, I have applied these techniques to major questions across tetrapods such as archosaurs including dinosaurs (with birds), the Devonian water-land transition, elephants, felids and more. I also have been keen to push forward the frontiers of using biomechanical models and simulation in studies of animals; in particular by emphasising cautious sensitivity analysis and testing the validity of the underlying methods and assumptions.

What prompted you to work in this field?
Good undergrad classes in functional morphology, evolution, palaeontology and even ecology got me excited again about organisms and showed me that there was still great science to be done with them. Jurassic Park (the novel, and somewhat the movie) got me re-interested in dinosaurs. Reading some more about biomechanics and attending my first scientific conferences as an undergraduate inspired me to apply Newtonian mechanical principles to functional questions, as the great R. McNeill Alexander had done.

Why did you join the Proceedings B Editorial Board?
I think Proceedings B is a fun journal, and one with a deep, esteemed history in science. It represents a huge diversity of novel, inspiring research across biology and papers can be long enough to delve into some depth. I was looking to serve science at a good journal and Proceedings B immediately jumped to mind, so I asked if there were opportunities and was pleased to find one.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to submit to Proceedings B?
First, keep in mind that you are writing for a broad audience of biology-interested scientists; be accessible and integrative. A paper written for a specialist journal, even if the topic is somewhat compelling, might not make it to review if its “pitch” is overly specialised. Second, make it fun—without overhyping it. Tell a great story in the abstract and weave that through the paper. Think carefully about designing the best images to tell that story in figures, which may be the only things some readers see—or what attract the eye of the media/public. Third, make it open – plan your paper so that methods and data are ready, ideally, to share with reviewers and then definitely with publication. Science is quickly moving more and more in that direction of emphasising openness and reproducibility, and Proceedings B is not shy to help push that forwards. “Contact the author for information” will eventually be a thing of the past, but we are in a phase of cultural change that is not wholly there yet; journals need to do their part to aid it.

 

Sarah Brosnan

Tell us more about your field of research?
I study the mechanisms of decision-making behaviour, and in particular, cooperation. My focus is on the decisions individuals make and how they make them, how their social or ecological environments affect their decisions and interactions, and under what circumstances they can alter their behaviours depending on these conditions. I take an explicitly comparative approach, studying responses across several taxa, with a focus on nonhuman primates, and have recently added a more developmental component to the comparison, studying decision-making in children and adults. To do this, in my research I use tasks derived from experimental economics to directly compare across species and contexts, as well as more specialised tasks designed to take advantage of each species’ strengths.

What prompted you to work in this field?
I have always been fascinated by how individuals make decisions. Although I am now in a psychology department, I am a biologist, and started as an undergraduate doing behavioural ecology. My work moved to the lab when I became interested in using controlled experiments to study the factors influencing individuals’ decisions. More recently I have moved towards experiments that involve the entire social group and have added a field component in an effort to both understand how individuals make these decisions and how they manifest in more natural situations.

Why did you join the Proceedings B Editorial Board?
Inter-disciplinary journals are of vital importance because they introduce scientists to work beyond their immediate area. Such cross-fertilisation can be important for spurring new ideas, recognising where one’s own work might have applications in other fields, or identifying researchers doing related work in another species or from another perspective. Proceedings B fills this niche by offering a venue for people broadly interested in the biology of all species, including humans, to come together. I was pleased to join the editorial board in order to further this mission, and have always enjoyed reading the interesting papers that are submitted.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to submit to Proceedings B?
The most important thing is to make sure that your paper is aimed at a broad audience outside of your immediate field. If it is not clear to readers outside of your discipline why your work is important and how it relates to findings in other fields, it won’t have nearly the impact that it could.

 

Proceedings B is looking to publish more high-quality research articles and reviews in the fields of evolutionary biomechanics and behavioural ecology. If you have an idea for a review, we strongly encourage you to submit a proposal by completing our proposal template and sending it to the journal. More information about the journal and the submission process can be found on our website.

 

Image credit 1 – Sandra Starke

Image credit 2 – Megan Metcalf

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