UM Astrophysicist Joins Editorial Board of Physical Review Letters

APS fellow Emanuele Berti rises from featured writer to divisional associate editor

A fellow in the American Physical Society, Emanuele Berti has been named a divisional associate editor for Physical Review Letters. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Emanuele Berti has had several research articles accepted for Physical Review Letters, the respected journal published by the American Physical Society. Like many of his colleagues, he also has anonymously reviewed articles submitted by other researchers and made recommendations for their acceptance or rejection.

Soon, however, the University of Mississippi astrophysicist will help make decisions about who gets published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal. Berti has accepted an offer to be divisional associate editor, or DAE, in astrophysics for the journal, and his three-year term begins Feb. 1.

“This request was a great honor for me, but it is also a significant responsibility, because reviews are not anonymous,” said Berti, associate professor of physics and astronomy. “As a friend of mine put it, quoting from a famous movie: ‘This was an offer I could not refuse.'”

The main responsibility of a DAE is to hear appeals from authors of rejected papers. DAEs get a copy of the full file for the paper, with referee identities revealed in confidence, and are asked to write a “signed” opinion, supported by an assessment, about whether publication in PRL is warranted. The authors – and, sometimes, referees – are shown these reports.

DAEs are also sometimes approached to give informal guidance during the review of a paper. More generally, editors-in-chief seek feedback from the DAEs on scientific and publishing-related matters and use their input to better serve readers, referees and authors.

Berti, who won the society’s “Outstanding Referee Award” in 2011, takes over for Eric Poisson, whose term as DAE expires at the end of January. Following suggestions and strong encouragement from the APS Division of Gravitational Physics, journal editors extended the invitation.

UM administrators commended Berti for his latest achievement.

“The editorial staff play a crucial role in any scientific journal in that they are responsible for ensuring the significance and quality of manuscripts submitted for publication,” said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for the research and sponsored programs. “The university is proud Dr. Berti has been asked to serve in this role, as we are of all of our faculty who serve in editorial positions. It is further evidence of national and international leadership at the university.”

“Physical Review Letters is considered by many physicists to be the most prestigious research journal in the field,” said Luca Bombelli, chair and professor of physics and astronomy. “This news attests to the quality of the work done in our gravitational physics group and, in particular, Dr. Berti’s status as a leader in the area of relativistic astrophysics, and will increase the visibility of our department and university.”

A fellow of the American Physical Society, Berti is so well-respected for his theoretical work in gravitational physics he was invited by the editors of PRL to write a Viewpoint article that accompanied the 2016 paper announcing the discovery of gravitational waves.

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