Natalie Cooper

Natalie Cooper

Researcher, Natural History Museum, London

“I’ve been a member of the BES Publications Committee for around four years and it’s been a fascinating experience. I’ve learned lots about publishing and the amount of work that goes into running the BES journals.

“While I’ve been on the committee we’ve launched a new journal (People & Nature), created guidelines for publishing code and continued to push important areas such as diversity in editorial board members. I’ve found being on a committee is also a great way to meet people outside of my field.

“We meet as a committee two afternoons a year. Beforehand we get an agenda and some materials (papers) to read about the various items. Some items are just for information, other items we discuss in detail. Usually there will be a few items I have particular expertise in, and those are the ones I contribute to most. The atmosphere is business-like but light-hearted.

“When I suggest that people join a BES committee, their main concern is that they aren’t qualified or senior enough. In reality, we desperately need diverse voices and experiences to make sure we’re catering to the whole BES membership.

“Early career researchers are the future of the BES, so if we don’t know what they think or what really matters to them, then we can’t make the BES the best it can be. It can be scary to sit on committees with really senior ecologists, but everyone is really friendly and we all share the same goals, which makes things less intimidating. The BES staff are also very welcoming.

“Probably the biggest encouragement I give to anyone who feels unqualified is that I’m actually not an ecologist (I’m an evolutionary biologist), and yet I’m still encouraged to contribute to an ecology society!”

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