#IAmNYAS: Douglas Braaten

Launching a new book series, continuing the legacy of the oldest continuously published scientific serial in the US, and keeping up with the latest science – all in a day's work for Douglas Braaten, PhD.

#IAmNYAS: Douglas Braaten

When Douglas Braaten, PhD, isn't busy serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences or launching a new book series in his role as the Executive Director of Science Publications here at the Academy, you might find him sipping pints while watching the game or reading a great new biography.

Learn more about how Doug made his way into the publishing side of science and also the exciting new book series he's launching:

What made you decide to pursue a career in scientific publishing after completing your PhD and postdoc focused on immunology?

I didn't have what you would call a direct path from college to my PhD. By the time I started my PhD I had been working in labs for about 14 years; and by the time I finished by postdoc, it was 22 years. So it was a combination of that and my interest in editing that really pushed me to apply for a position as an associate editor. I have never regretted leaving bench work. And all that time doing experiments really helps me understand the papers I now read in my editorial work. 

The Academy is well-known for Annals, continually published since 1823. Why did you decide to launch a new book series?

For many years, in the late 19th through mid-20th centuries, the Academy had an established book program that produced several important publications. This was at a time when the Academy served as its own publisher. Not only were occasional books published by the Academy but also the venerable Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. The Academy ceased to function as an independent publisher in 2005 when it signed a contract with Wiley to publish Annals.

Given this history, it was not so much whether the Academy would begin a book series again, but when. The long-standing, close relationship between the Academy and Wiley was particularly conducive to developing a series that would enable the two institutions to bring together distinct talents, from the Academy's 20,000+ diverse members and multiple programs, to Wiley's worldwide brand recognition and production, marketing, and distribution capabilities.

What types of topics will the new series cover?  How will they differ from Annals?

The series really will be open to all topics in science - broadly construed - in keeping with the multidisciplinary nature of the Academy. Our core audience - those who come to events, read Annals, and visit our website, is in the biological sciences, ranging from everything from anatomy to zoology. But the Academy also is deeply committed to science education and areas in the physical sciences, including Green technology, ecology and conservation biology, and even mathematics.

What will make a proposal of particular interest is that it is on a topic that will be of interest to many of our members, as well as those who may not be members, but are involved in our many programs. The topics covered in Annals are narrower than what we hope to cover in at least some of the book projects for the series-especially when it comes to topics and content that could be used for educational purposes.

What kinds of things do you like to read when you're not reading scientific papers?

I read a lot of different things, but really enjoy historical biographies and psychology. For example, I recently read a great bio of Stalin (by Stephen Kotkin), and I'm now reading some things on the history of psychoanalysis.

Do you have any hobbies or interests that might surprise people?

As a kid I was involved in all kinds of sports-baseball, basketball, tennis, bowling, golf, football, swimming-and so I follow a lot of sports today. So on a given weekend you might find me at a local sports bar watching some kind of sporting event, and enjoying a couple of pints of beer.


Do you have a book proposal that you think might be a good fit for our new book series? Do you have questions? You can contact Doug directly at dbraaten@nyas.org.

Be sure to also check out the latest Annals volumes that Doug and the publishing team have been working on.

Read other #IAmNYAS profiles here.