Candidate for Member at Large: Rita M. Franco-Santos

Rita M. Franco-Santos

B.Sc. 2010 (Oceanography, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil); M.Sc. 2012 (Coastal and Oceanic Systems, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil); M.Sc. 2013 (Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Ghent University, Belgium and Universidad de Oviedo, Spain); Ph.D. 2018 (Marine Sciences, Bremen University, Germany and Ghent University, Belgium)

Biographical Information

I grew up in a land-locked city in Brazil, but the ocean has always been my passion. I’ve worked with cephalopods, briefly passed through marine pollution, and solidified my expertise in zooplankton ecology during and after my PhD. I currently use biomarkers (fatty acids, stable isotopes) to unravel the potential of seaweed habitats for carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation/adaptation, and try to better understand how science can influence blue carbon policy. After completing my degrees, I relocated to Australia, where I’m pursuing my second postdoctoral fellowship at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

I first joined ASLO in 2022 as a Raelyn Cole Editorial Fellow working with the Editor-in-Chief of L&O Letters on scientific publishing. In this capacity, I organized events during ASLO meetings, promoted opportunities for students/early career researchers (ECRs), held workshops on how to write and publish, and highlighted the contribution of impactful publications from the ASLO journals. I championed ECRs everywhere as I led the second call of the L&O Letters Early Career Publication Honor, which provides them with editorial support and a waiver to the journal’s publication costs. I am also helping shape ASLO’s Open Access vision for the future (you can too!).

Candidate Statement

In my time as an ASLO member, I encountered something unexpected – a community. A sense of belonging. A desire to contribute and serve. I recently read an article (Tenney et al., 2024) about the importance of people and passion when scientists undertake projects. To me, ASLO is an abundant source of these major enhancements to professional and personal life. I expect many other members feel the same way.

More than a third of ASLO’s members reside outside the US and Canada. As a Brazilian settled in Australia, I want to help ASLO expand its geographic reach and representation outside of its original North American base. I’ve acted as an ambassador for ASLO while conducting my Fellowship activities, introducing and encouraging others to join the society. By actively pursuing diversity within ASLO, we will have a richer, more balanced, and more accessible network of aquatic scientists. I’m keen to see this increased diversity extended to ASLO’s meetings (e.g., by employing hybrid conference technologies, providing travel support) and publications (e.g., by addressing cost-related accessibility and language issues for members who speak English as a foreign language). I’d also like to better understand member satisfaction, and to consider the development of new benefits as a means to attract and retain scientists and to foster networking and collaboration within ASLO.

As an early career researcher (ECR) myself, I understand the barriers and stresses that ECRs face in their academic journey. I have taken every opportunity to share the knowledge I gained during my tenure as a Raelyn Cole Editorial Fellow in the hope that it’ll enable others. I’ll soon receive training in Mental Health First Aid to better support and guide myself and others in dealing with overwhelming career and societal challenges. While I’ll continue my efforts to support ECRs, and to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, as a Board Member-at-Large I want to serve the broader ASLO community by applying my training in scientific publishing to help ASLO face new challenges.

The Limnology & Oceanography family of journals published in partnership with Wiley is a key aspect of ASLO. Many, if not most, members interact with these publications as authors, reviewers, readers, and/or editors. The journals are highly regarded within and outside the ASLO community. However, the world of scientific publishing is undergoing a rapid transformation to the Open Access model, which will vastly increase the accessibility of published research, but could also negatively impact under-funded scientists and affect ASLO’s financial viability. I am excited at the prospect of working with ASLO and its publishing partner Wiley to strengthen the position of the journals, to grow submissions and published articles, and to navigate the transition to fully Open Access. I intend to organize events to increase member awareness of Open Access drivers, including policies and data sharing, and of new publishing models such as transformational agreements that lower publication costs for authors. We will benefit the most from Open Access when all of us can be an active part of the movement.

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