In order to keep developing preLights and respond to the needs of the community, we recently launched the preLights ambassador scheme. Four amazing preLighters have now been appointed as Ambassadors and we caught up with all of them to chat about the things that they’re excited to bring to this role during the coming year.
We end this interview series with Juan Moriano who is in the final stages of his PhD at the Universitat de Barcelona, Spain. As preLights Ambassador, his aim is to establish new and meaningful connections and to build a profile based on sharing excitement about the science of his peers and colleagues.
Congratulations on joining our first preLights Ambassador team! Why did you decide to apply for the role of preLights Ambassador?
For similar reasons I wanted to join preLights in the first place – to promote the science and preprints of my colleagues. Becoming an Ambassador felt like a great opportunity to take my commitment to the next level. Also, the call went out at just the right time as I have now entered the very final stages of my PhD.
As preLights Ambassador, my main goal is to channel the motivation, ideas, and suggestions of our preLighters into concrete plans and actions. I view this initiative as an effort to dedicate the time and space to implement the ideas that we all like into something tangible.
In your own career so far, how often have you felt part of a larger community? And how important has it been for your own academic and personal development?
Feeling part of a community has always been important to me. Already during my undergraduate in Salamanca, Spain, I was part of an active student association. It’s such an enriching experience to feel part of group of people that you can relate to, share your interests with and get support from when needed. It’s also this that led me to preLights. Already before I joined, I could tell that this was a very supportive community which I was sure that I wanted to be a part of.
What do you think should be the most important goal of community projects like preLights?
First of all, I think that we provide a real service to the scientific community by helping researchers sort through the large volumes of preprints that get published every day. One of the most important goals to me is to ensure that while we’re highlighting recent preprints, we keep building our community on the basis of a shared set of principles. These include things like being open to people from different backgrounds, providing support to new members, helping people balance their work, and ensuring the freedom of our members to share ideas and opinions in a respectful way.
What is your favourite thing about preLights?
During the next year, what aspect of preLights would you like to strengthen? And how would you like to achieve it?
As I mentioned, there are a lot of good ideas floating around within this community and my aim is to make some of them happen. One idea that I will work on first is to provide preLighters with the tools to visualise their work in a clear and engaging way. I aim to set up a workshop – provisionally called ‘figuring out your science’ – in which a team of experts will discuss how to best visualise scientific data, make publication-ready figures, and prepare figures for oral/poster presentations and social media platforms. As you can imagine, this will require quite a diverse group of instructors, ranging from data scientists to graphic designers. I believe that this type of cross-disciplinary training is not sufficiently covered in most training programs for early career researchers and so it will likely be of use to many of our community members.
What are you hoping to gain from the experience in terms of your own career development?
The Ambassador role seems like a perfect fit at this stage of my career. I look forward to having the opportunity to lead a few projects, like ‘Figuring out your science’, and be involved in them from start to finish. Going through all the different stages of setting up an event will be a very enriching experience and something that will help me further develop in my academic career.
Finally, what is something people should know about you (but may surprise some)?
When I was a child, I was seriously impressed by a friend of my parents who performed a magic trick. Ever since, I’ve been fascinated by it and have taught myself to do a few tricks. As part of carnival, I loved dressing up as a magician. I still enjoy (rather similar) mind games: there is so much fun to be had in unlocking secrets and mysteries.