Physiology News Magazine

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The year ahead: Diversity and Space Special Issues

News and Views

The year ahead: Diversity and Space Special Issues

News and Views

Keith Siew, Scientific Editor

Julia Turan, Managing Editor


2019 is set to be an exciting year for Physiology News (PN). As part of The Society’s new website, PN will be also published as an online digital microsite in addition to the popular hardcopy and PDF formats. It is our hope that this additional format will enhance our readers’ experience by improving PN’s searchability, shareability and accessibility on various device and browsers. In particular, we’re excited to announce that a long-term pet project of many editorial board members, both past and present, will finally come to fruition with the completion of a searchable list of past PN feature articles and the return of the PDF archive of PN past issues.

Last summer, we enthusiastically welcomed both old and new members to the Editorial Board. We hail from around the world and bring together a variety of backgrounds in research, education, industry and clinical practice. Recently, a few of our Editorial Board members have stepped down or taken leave and we wish to extend our thanks for their time and service. We congratulate Fiona Hatch on her new job with Novartis (and recent engagement), Pete Aldiss on his new position at the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research (University of Birmingham), and Katherine Rogers who is soon to be on maternity leave. If you are interested in science communication, and increasing engagement with physiology and The Society, please check the news section of our website or email magazine@physoc.org to enquire about applying for the vacancies.

Since the revamp of the magazine in 2011, we have aimed to produce two Special Issues of PN per annum, not only to draw attention to interesting areas of physiology but hopefully also stimulate discussion within our community. And given the tantalising success of companies like SpaceX, the historic first landings on the darkside of the moon and asteroid Ryugu, this year the Editorial Board have decided to focus one of our winter Special Issues on space. With plans already in the works for colonisation missions to Mars, regular space tourism and even the formation of a space force within the next decade, questions about how (or if) human physiology can adapt to the stresses of distant space travel or long-term inhabitation of other worlds are becoming ever more pertinent.

Another timely issue deserving of attention is diversity (Summer issue), as The Society’s five-year strategy (approved last year) and the governance review (which is currently taking place) both seek to improve diversity and inclusion. Our hope is that this issue will not only explore the impact diversity issues have on our science (i.e. sex-bias in animal studies, overemphasis on Caucasians in clinical trials, etc.), but also allow those underrepresented or inequitably treated within our own community to share their experiences and engage the rest of us in much needed conversations about the challenges many face, be that due to race, age, sex, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. As always, we welcome unsolicited contributions for any of our issues and if you have any ideas for content on these topics or others, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by emailing magazine@physoc.org.

In this issue of PN, we’re delighted to feature an article by Jose Vega on his extraordinary journey into the history of the mammalian dive response and the hidden treasures he uncovered that have potential clinical significance (p. 24). Too often, many of us forget the lessons history can teach us, and in that vein Angus Brown’s article stresses the importance of consulting the original literature which underpin seminal findings (p.32). As well as pieces on the more modern dilemmas faced by the medical communications industry (p. 36), the potential impact on learned societies by Plan S (p. 12), and the pros and cons of disruptive technology in the physiology classroom (p. 14 and p. 45). For those seeking something more light-hearted, a satirical piece the on perils of publishing is also quite an amusing read (p. 8).

The final focus of this issue, is on what a funny thing a career in science can be. On paper, the steps you’re required to take can seem relatively straightforward – pick a STEM subject, study hard, get your PhD, do your postdoc rounds, and get an academic position so you can start climbing that ladder (p. 28). Yet when I think of my own career or those of Matthew Laye (p. 28), Ana Vujic (p. 40) or Bethan Phillips (p. 44), it’s clear that things never go quite as planned but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. To quote the Rolling Stones: “You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.”

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