Name: Rosaly Lopes
Institution: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA
Role at institution: Senior Research Scientist
Journal role: Editor-in-Chief
Average number of submissions per year: 600
IF 2017: 2.981
- What inspired your career in research?
I was inspired mostly by the Apollo program. I was this little Brazilian girl who wanted to be an astronaut, until I realized that being Brazilian, female, and with terrible eyesight, I was not likely to make it. I decided to become an astronomer instead and take part in the space program that way. During my undergraduate years in England, I became really interested in planetary geology, so ended up doing a PhD in that area. I have been part of two great missions, Galileo and Cassini, so I can say I fulfilled my childhood dream.
- How would you describe a typical working day?
I divide my time between my Editor-in-Chief responsibilities, my research projects, my work on various committees, and things that just come up. I’m always busy, but the editorship takes priority because I understand how frustrating it is for an author to have a manuscript take a long time to get through the review process. Sometimes we can’t help it, but I try to be as fast as I can on my end.
- How do you measure success in your work?
To be appreciated by one’s colleagues is a great measure of success, but overall I don’t think much about what being successful is. I think what matters most is that you do work you love and that makes you feel fulfilled.
- Do you have any particular advice for younger researchers?
Do what you love, find your niche. Be persistent because research is a road full of obstacles and dead ends. Focus on the process more than the outcome and enjoy the journey of discovery.
- What drove you to become an editor?
I love writing and publishing. I have not only been author or co-author of over 120 peer-reviewed papers, but also eight books. When the opportunity to apply to be Editor-in-Chief for Icarus came up, I immediately applied. I’m very proud of the journal, which was started by Carl Sagan.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of editorial work for you and what do you find difficult about the role?
That’s easy. The most rewarding is when I accept a paper, particularly one that has had a difficult time in review. The most difficult thing about the role is when I have to reject a paper, particularly one that the authors tried hard but ultimately failed to address our concerns.
- What is the most important attribute for being an editor?
Having a broad knowledge of the field and good judgement.
- Name one item/tool/resource that you cannot do without in your editorial role?
The resource tools for finding reviewers. Equally important is the journal’s great Managing Editor.
- What would you be doing now if you were not in your position?
That’s hard to say. I might still be doing line management, as I stepped down when I became Editor-in-Chief for Icarus. But maybe not. Five years was enough.
- What is the most interesting image/photograph you have come across in your journal?
It’s very hard to pick one. I am biased toward the Cassini images of Saturn and its rings and satellites, as I worked on the mission. The images obtained by the camera, in particular, are just awe-inspiring.