Impactstory Advisor of the Month

Posted by Stacy Konkiel on September 19, 2014 · 6 mins read
This interview was originally posted by Stacy Konkiel on the ImpactStory blog.

Guillaume is a post-doc researcher at the Université de Liège in Belgium, in the Plant Physiology lab of Pr. Claire Perilleux. He’s also a dedicated practitioner of open, web native science, creating awesome tools ranging from a Plant Image Analysis software finder to an image analysis toolbox that allows the quantitative analysis of root system architecture. He’s even created an open source webapp that uses Impactstory’s open profile data to automatically create CVs in LaTeX, HTML, and PDF formats. (More on that below.)

I had the pleasure of corresponding with Guillaume this week to talk about his research, what he enjoys about practicing web native science, and his approach to being an Impactstory Advisor.

Tell us a bit about your current research.

I am a plant physiologist. My current work focuses on how the growth and development of different plant organs (e.g. the root and the shoot) are coordinated, and how modifications in one organ affects the others. The project is fascinating, because so far the majority of the plant research is focused on one specific organ or process and few has been done to try to understand how the different parts communicate.

Why did you initially decide to join Impactstory?

A couple of years ago, I created a website referencing the existing plant image analysis software tools (www.plant-image-analysis.org). I wanted to help users understand how well the tools (or more specifically, the scientific papers describing the tools) have been received by the community. At that time, an article-level Impactstory widget was available, and I choose to use it. It was a great addition to the website!

At the same time, I created a Impactstory profile and I’ve used it since then. (A quick word about the new profiles: they look fantastic!)

Why did you decide to become an Advisor?

Mainly because the ideas promoted by the Impactstory team are in line with my own. Researchers’ contributions to the scientific community (or even to society in general) are not only done by publishing peer-reviewed paper (even though it is still a very important way to disseminate our findings). The Web 2.0 brought us a large array of means to contribute to the scientific debate and it would be restrictive not to consider those while evaluating one’s work.

How have you been spreading the word about Impactstory?

I started by talking about it with my direct colleagues. Then, I noticed that science valorisation in general was not well known, so made a presentation about it and shared it on Figshare. To my great surprise, it became my most viewed item (I guess people liked the Lord of the Rings / Impactstory mash up :)). In addition, I also created a small widget to convert any Impactstory online profile into a resume. And of course, I proudly wear my Impactstory t-shirt whenever I go to conferences, which alway bring questions such as “I heard of that, what is it exactly?”.

You’re a web-native scientist (as evidenced by your active presence on sites like Figshare, Github, and Mendeley). When did you start practicing web-native science? What do you like about it? Are there drawbacks?

It really started a couple of years ago, by the end of my PhD. At that time, I needed to apply for a new position, so I set up a webpage, Mendeley account, and so on. I quickly found it to be a great way to get in touch with other researchers.

What I like the most about web-native science is that boundaries are disappearing! You do not need to meet people in person to build a new project or start a new collaboration. It brings together all the researchers of the same fields who are scattered around the globe, into a small digital community where they can easily interact!

As of the drawbacks, I am still looking for them :)

Tell us about your “Impact CV” webapp, which converts anyone’s Impactstory profile data into PDF, Markdown, LaTeX, or HTML format. Why’d you create it and how’d you do it?

A few months ago, I needed to update my resume and my IS profile contained all my research outputs. So I thought it would be nice to be able to reuse this information, not only for me, but for everyone who has an Impactstory profile. So instead of copying & pasting my online profile to my resume, I took advantage of the openness of Impactstory to automatically retrieve the data contained in my profile (everything is stored in a Json file that is readily available from any profile) and re-use it locally. I wrapped it up in a webpage (http://www.guillaumelobet.be/impact) and Voilà!

What’s the best part about your work as a post-doc researcher at the Université de Liège?

Academic freedom is definitely the best part about working in a University. It gives us the latitude to explore unexpected paths. And I work with great people!


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