Name: Lauren Hale
University: Stony Brook University, New York
Role at university: Associate Professor of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine; Core Faculty in the Program in Public Health
Journal: Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation
Journal role: Founding Editor-in-Chief
- What inspired your career in science?
Growing up, I was always drawn to math and statistics. It didn’t hurt that my grandfather was one of the early pioneers in the field of Biostatistics. (He was the Mantel in the Mantel-Haenszel test.) My grandfather challenged me with number and word puzzles whenever we talked; I loved figuring out the answers for him. My brother and I attended a science and technology magnet high school more than half an hour away from home. Now that I think about it, the long commute probably resulted in my first experience with sleep deprivation among teenagers!
- What is the best thing about being an editor?
As an editor, I love working with other scholars and helping them disseminate the findings of their research. Before Sleep Health, I focused primarily on my work related to demography of sleep and its social justice components. Now I have a much broader perspective and enjoy helping promote other people’s research in addition to still doing my own.
- What is the worst thing about being an editor?
An endless cycle of publishing deadlines. As editor, I’m responsible for making sure we have sufficient original, high quality content for each issue. Yet the authors and reviewers don’t have the same incentives that I do to keep the process moving. And then once one issue is put to bed, it’s time to focus on the next issue. There’s never really any downtime between publication dates.
- What is the most important attribute for being an editor?
As an interdisciplinary journal, we try to be inclusive of research and methodologies that fit within our broad scope. Thus, it is important to keep an open mind. I don’t want to reject something as “out of scope” just because it employs different approaches than most research in other public health journals. We have published articles by lawyers and English professors, in addition to research by physicians, educators, and sociologists. I aim to be discerning yet supportive when reviewing submissions. Hopefully, that will encourage our potential authors to submit and resubmit their best possible science.
- Where do you think your journal will be 10 years from now?
Sleep Health fills a niche. As the importance of sleep patterns and sleep quality becomes more recognized as a major factor in health and society, I am already seeing how our journal is becoming more relevant to many established and emerging disciplines.
- Name one item that you cannot do without in your role?
Sharpies! Even though much of the editorial process is computerized, for some reason, I like to take notes, make lists, and brainstorm ideas writing in all caps with a red Sharpie marker. It feels more definitive that way. Okay, realistically, the one thing I couldn’t do without is the internet. Being an editor requires connecting to and engaging with other people around the globe all the time. Ironically, sometimes this occurs at the expense of my sleep.
- Any tips on finding reviewers?
I start with our Editorial Board. Thankfully, we have a lot of breadth of expertise and active participation from our Board. After that, I look at the authors of the articles cited in submission. I also use the “Find Reviewer” function on the Elsevier portal, but usually I have to tweak the suggested keywords.
- What is your greatest achievement (either professionally or personally)?
Professionally, a crowning moment was when Sleep Health was selected by the Association of American Publishers to receive the 2016 PROSE award for the Best New Journal in Science, Technology and Medicine. The day we found out that Sleep Health won the award, I taught an evening course at Stony Brook. When I came home later that night, I found that my then 4-year-old son had decorated a “Congratulations” sign for me, accompanied by a bottle of wine and some chocolates from my husband. I felt pretty good that evening, especially because both of my sons were already asleep (which doesn’t happen often enough!).
- What would you be doing now if you were not Professor at Stony Brook University?
Geesh, I don’t know. As a kid, I used to dream about attending Clown College.
- What is the most interesting image/photograph you have come across in your journal?
We’ve had a lot of fun with our cover art. We’re very fortunate to have Dr. Meir Kryger, who wrote the textbook on the Principles and Practices of Sleep Medicine, serve as our Art Editor. Each issue, Dr. Kryger selects a different, well-known painting depicting sleepers and writes an accompanying art editorial. The March 2016 cover image, Sorrolla’s “Mother,” received some critical feedback from our readers. The image showed an infant bed-sharing with her mother in a tall and heavily blanketed bed. We published the comments about improper infant sleep safety in our Letters to the Editor section. One of the members of the Journal’s Editorial Board pointed out that Rousseau’s “The Sleeping Gypsy,” the image gracing our December 2015 issue, depicts a woman sleeping next to a lion: Also not recommended.