Ada Lovelace Day 2020 at Communications Biology

Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, published the world’s first computer algorithms in 1843 (a full century before Alan Turing), making her the first programmer. Though Ada’s promising career was cut short by cancer at the age of 36, we honor her memory by celebrating the achievements of women in STEM.

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This year at Communications Biology, we wanted to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day by highlighting some of our outstanding women Editorial Board Members, who balance their own pioneering research with the journal’s mission of publishing high-quality articles across the breadth of biological sciences. We asked two of our Editorial Board Members about their research achievements, why they were first interested in joining the Communications Biology team, and who they would want to commemorate on Ada Lovelace Day.


Dr. Helen (Juan) Zhou: Editorial Board Member since October 2019

Dr. Zhou is an Associate Professor at the Center for Sleep and Cognition and the Deputy Director at the Center for Translational MR Research, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS). She also holds a joint appointment with Neuroscience and Behavioral Disorders Program, Duke-NUS Medical School. Prior to joining NUS in 2011, Dr. Zhou was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco and an associate research scientist at New York University. Her lab studies selective brain network-based vulnerability in neuropsychiatric disorders such as dementia and psychosis using multimodal neuroimaging and machine learning approaches.

What inspired you to join the editorial board?

I enjoy the multidisciplinary research reviewed and published by Communications Biology, especially those targeting neuroscience questions using novel data-driven machine learning approaches. Interactions with the editorial team, authors, and reviewers in the past year has been a wonderful learning journey for me. It broadens my horizons and motivates me to connect the dots across disciplines.

Who has been a female role model or key mentor that has had an impact on your career?

Prof. Susan Bookheimer at UCLA is my role model. She is a world-leading expert in brain imaging and neuroscience who has provided me invaluable advice on science and research as well as strategy and leadership.


Dr. Eirini Troumpouki: Editorial Board Member since July 2020

Dr. Trompouki is a group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Germany. She performed her graduate studies in B.S.R.C. “Al. Fleming” where she focused on identifying novel regulators of the NF-κB pathway. Having obtained a Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund fellowship, she joined the lab of Leonard Zon in Boston Children's Hospital and embarked on the molecular mechanisms that govern hematopoietic stem cell differentiation towards erythrocytes. During this work she discovered how lineage determining transcription factors guide signal-induced transcription factors to specific genomic regions, thus achieving tissue specificity of signaling. In her own group at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, they study hematopoietic stem cell formation during development and hematopoietic regeneration in adults with an emphasis on the molecular mechanisms that regulate these processes. Dr. Trompouki is interested in the role of transcription factors, innate immune signaling and repetitive elements in hematopoiesis. In 2019, she received the ZDMS Junior faculty award of excellence from the Zebrafish Disease Models society for the dissection of the metabolic regulation of normal and malignant hematopoiesis by transcription factors.​

What inspired you to join the editorial board?

I joined the editorial board of Communications Biology for many reasons. One reason is that I believe in the quality of this journal and I think I can help it to build its reputation and standards, since it is a new journal. I have to admit that I was also curious to be on the "dark side". Up to now my experience with peer review was always on the side of the authors. Now I know how the system works and I understand the editors’ decisions much better. Finally, this job gives me the chance to read and think about papers in fields that are a bit further from my actual research. I truly feel that this fact keeps my brain cells alive and kicking but also helps me expand my appreciation for other scientific fields.

Who has been a female role model or key mentor in STEM that has had an impact on your career?

I am one of these very lucky people that were raised with the certainty that everything is possible if you work towards a goal. This is how my parents raised me so I never felt that me being a woman would pose any hurdle in my career. Having said that, I can see that being a woman, or being in a minority group, may severely affect your career. I am lucky enough to work in hematology, a field where many leaders are women. I don't want to put down names since there are many women, leaders or not, that inspire me. I just want to say that great people, independently of gender or anything else, are the ones that are smart, show empathy and take time to mentor all of us. And I am grateful that I have many in my life, scientists or not.


We are truly thankful for the hard work that Dr. Zhou, Dr. Troumpouki, and all of our Editorial Board Members put into their labs and our journal. Please join the festivities for Ada Lovelace Day (and really, for the rest of the year as well) on Twitter by sharing your appreciation for collaborators, role models, or rock stars in STEM using #AdaLovelaceDay or #ALD2020.


George Inglis

Associate Editor, Springer Nature