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Meet Debora Walker, the new PLOS Water Executive Editor

We announced the launch of PLOS Water one year ago. In that time, the journal has taken steps to bridge the hydrology, water resources and water, sanitation and hygiene communities by publishing content that spans disciplines and affects communities around the world. I have recently taken on the role of Executive Editor for PLOS Water, just as we’re entering the next phase in our journey – growing the journal and becoming an established voice in freshwater scholarship for people and planet.

So in my inaugural post, I would like to briefly introduce myself, reflect on what attracted me to this journal, and outline my plans and hopes for the future.

A chemist by training, I did my PhD work at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany, and followed up with a postdoc in soft matter physics at Harvard University. In 2019, I started my career in publishing as an in-house editor for Wiley’s Materials Science portfolio, where I developed an interest and became involved in projects around publishing ethics and integrity, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion in science publishing.

Many of the values that attracted me to PLOS Water are of course PLOS values more generally – upholding high standards with regard to scientific rigor, as well as high ethical standards in scientific reporting. Our commitment to Open Science, coupled with PLOS Water’s mission of bridging fields and creating community around a topic of such vital importance, really has the potential to move the research beyond its academic audience, into the public realm where it can inform positive change and give all stakeholders the information to empower them to tackle some of this planet’s most pressing challenges.

One of my first responsibilities was to develop a strategy to help the journal deliver on its ambitious mission. To this end, our first Calls for Papers and Collections are going to be designed around topics that bridge multiple, often still separate, research and practice communities; and I am excited about the chance to contribute to building the journal’s community in an equitable and inclusive manner to drive joint participatory action from researchers, practitioners, and the public around the world.

Lastly, this also ties into the PLOS Water’s mission that research should be used to inform evidence-based policies in our society. So please keep a lookout for upcoming announcements on how PLOS Water, in collaboration with PLOS Climate and PLOS Sustainability and Transformation, will promote and advance the ability of researchers to advise on policies on a local, regional, or global level. To that end, I hope PLOS Water will be a force in the move to a more equitable and accessible form of research and information sharing that will benefit all of society.

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