Geneticist Magdalena Skipper is the first woman to head one of the world’s biggest and most influential scientific journals. Since it was founded in 1869, Nature has only been spearheaded by men — until now.
Meet Nature’s new editor — she’s been active in the field for decades, and she reads scientific articles like they’re today’s newspaper. Skipper, who is currently editor-in-chief of the open-access journal Nature Communications, will move on to become the editor of Nature, taking over from Philip Campbell, who will move to the newly created post of editor in chief at publisher Springer Nature on 1 July.
Skipper has a PhD in genetics from the University of Cambridge and has spent over 15 years working for Nature in various leading positions. She announced that she will focus on ensuring that the findings published in Nature continue to be reproducible, something which can be challenging in the age of big data.
“Science is becoming increasingly analytically complex and data rich, so there is an increased focus on data and computation. We have taken some amazing strides,” Skipper says, while adding that there is more work to be done.
Skipper also stated that she’d like to focus more on early-career researchers. Science publishing can be very difficult to approach for younger scientists, especially if they don’t have the support of a more experienced veteran.
Another focus of Nature, Skipper says, will be open science. Science journals can be notoriously expensive and difficult to access, especially for developing countries or smaller universities or research institutes. Although she didn’t mention any specifics, Skipper
“Open science is very important,” she says. “This is a direction in which we will be following further.”
In this day and age, supporting junior scientists and open, transparent science is exactly what you want to hear from a journal editor — especially a journal like Nature.
Nature is one of the oldest and most cited and appreciated scientific journals in the world. It is also one of the very few remaining academic journals that still publishes research across a wide range of scientific fields.
The move has also been applauded as it offers one of the most prestigious positions in science to a woman. Women are severely under-represented in the sciences and are much less likely to be hired in leading positions.
“This is excellent news — for Nature, for science publishing, and for the advancement of women,” said Dr. Fiona Godlee, the editor-in-chief of the BMJ, who added that Skipper brings “an enormous richness of skill and experience appropriate for this important role.”
Life sciences is one of the few areas where women researchers have achieved parity (45–55% of researchers) in many countries, and it’s only normal for highly qualified people such as Magdalena Skipper to step up to claim leading positions. We’d like to wish her the best of luck and hope she succeeds in advancing quality and transparent science.