Other Than Editing

Tiffany Inbody: Active in Varied Roles

sep-oct 2010 Barbara MendozaMany Science Editor readers may recognize the name Tiffany Inbody, as it has followed the word “Designer” in the masthead of Science Editor or its predecessor since the September–October 1998 issue. However, designer is just one of many roles that Inbody plays in her daily life.

Inbody’s involvement in publication design began as a student. During spring 1994, while working on her undergraduate biology degree at Texas A&M University, Inbody noticed that the student newspaper, The Battalion, was hiring a page designer. Inbody said she thought, “I could do that”, on the basis of her high school yearbook committee experience. Feeling confident, Inbody went to the interview. She was asked whether she was a journalism major, whether she had page-design experience, and whether she was familiar with Associated Press (AP) style. She answered no to all the questions, she joked, but somehow still got the job.

That summer, Inbody prepared for her new position as page designer. On a trip to the bookstore, she could find only the American Psychological Association (APA) stylebook. Inbody figured that APA was close enough to AP, so she spent the summer familiarizing herself with the APA style guide while lifeguarding. That fall, at her first Battalion staff meeting, Inbody soon recognized that she would need to trade in her APA stylebook for an AP stylebook, a very different reference.

Inbody’s experience at The Battalion may have gotten off to a rocky start, but it gave her a first look into journalism from page design to the start-to-finish newspaper production process. Inbody eventually became the editor-in-chief of The Battalion.

Once Inbody reached her junior year, she found that she didn’t have a postgraduation plan. A friend encouraged Inbody to speak with Barbara Gastel, the coordinator of the science and technology journalism master’s degree program at Texas A&M University. Inbody recalls knowing Gastel only as the kind lady who would come to The Battalion editorial office around midnight on many evenings when leaving after a long day and offer her parking spot to any of The Battalion employees who wanted a coveted closer parking space.

With Inbody’s new experience in journalism and her love for science and research, she thought the science and technology journalism program would be a great fit. After talking with Gastel, she decided to apply, and she was happy to be accepted into the program. Inbody graduated with a BA in biology in May 1997 and began her master’s degree the next fall.

Designing Science Editor

In 1998, while Inbody was working on her master’s degree, her graduate advisor, Gastel, became the editor of CBE Views. The magazine needed a designer. Inbody expressed interest in the position and became the designer while still pursuing her master’s degree.

At the time, production of the magazine was much different from what it is today. Inbody recalls preparing hard-copy images for the magazine, mailing her work to the printer, and working with floppy disks. She recalls how greatly improvements in e-mail and the advent of PDF files increased the efficiency of submission and production processes.

Inbody was integral in transforming the newsletter CBE Views into the magazine Science Editor. Addition of a cover with a color picture and changes in layout and the type of paper used gave the publication a completely new look. “We’ve been so lucky to have Tiffany as our designer,” Gastel said. “She has a wonderful eye and great attention to detail, and she’s always so easy to work with.”

Besides gaining more than 10 years of design experience, Inbody has enjoyed getting to know people from all over the world through Science Editor. “All the staff at Science Editor whom I’ve worked with are so professional and great at what they do, which means I don’t have nearly as many challenges as you may expect when it comes to putting the final product together—they make my job a lot easier,” Inbody said.

Although her schedule no longer allows her to attend CSE annual meetings, Inbody still enjoys reading articles in Science Editor before they go to print and comparing the research that is being reported with research at the university.

Communicating Research

Inbody’s career has been centering on communication of university research. From 2004 to 2010 she was the director of communications and public relations for the Division of Research and Graduate Studies at Texas A&M University. Inbody began working in that office in May 1999, when she graduated from the science and technology journalism program. Her first position was as an associate editor for the office and of the annual research magazine, Advance. When the editorship of Advance came open after an administrative change, she approached the new vice president for research and said that she wanted to continue working with Advance—as the editor.

As director of communications and public relations, Inbody headed a team dealing with “anything to do with words”, she said. That included the content of the office’s Web site, presentations, publications, and advertising. The mission of the office was “to find as many effective ways as [it could] to communicate research and show our audience that not everything in research is in a test tube or a science lab,” Inbody said. “Research is so interesting, and many people don’t understand that so much of the research we do, from technology to health care, many times starts in a university research office,” Inbody said.

At the same time, working in a university research office can pose communication challenges. “It’s sometimes difficult to tell a story of research in a way that makes sense to the public and also makes the researcher happy,” Inbody said. “You want to appeal to your audience and find a balance so that the research doesn’t sound overly complicated. We need to make sure that we aren’t communicating promises that can’t be kept about the research findings.”

In June of this year, Texas A&M University named Inbody to a new position drawing on her research communication skills: that of research compliance outreach coordinator. Inbody’s duties in this position include working with the university community to facilitate biosafety compliance and coordinating training. “I will have more opportunities to talk to researchers about their passion and see more of the great work being done on campus,” Inbody said.

Beyond Career

Inbody also holds the role of mother of two children: daughter Morgan, 3 years old, and son Daniel, 5 years old. Inbody’s husband, Dave, was until recently deployed in Afghanistan with the Texas Army National Guard. There, he was part of an agribusiness development team testing different farming methods and teaching them to local families. Inbody explained that many of the families grow enough food to feed themselves, but the team is teaching the local farmers to expand their productivity to make money by selling their crops.

Inbody’s husband was deployed in 2009, and he returned to the United States in July 2010, after his vehicle ran over an IED (improvised explosive device), seriously injuring his foot.

While balancing career and family without her husband, Inbody was constantly on the go and tried to be as organized as possible. “My pantry is stocked with enough food for a year, and we have enough Kleenex to last us a few flu seasons, but if I don’t keep organized, things could get overwhelming,” Inbody said. “I can’t just go to the store on a whim; everything must be planned down to the minute. I feel more comfortable knowing that I have everything set for the day.”

Inbody said that military families now have resources that can make a difficult situation a little more tolerable. Military One Source is a family-support program that offers multiple resources to families, including Sesame Street videos that explain the difficult subject of deployment to young children. Now that her husband has been injured and is an amputee, “an entire new world has opened up in terms of support and information about recovery and rehabilitation,” Inbody says.

Modern communication resources—such as Skype, Facebook, and e-mail—have allowed families like Inbody’s to remain in touch and communicate with others in similar situations. “Facebook has been hugely comforting. It’s great to check in with other wives, even if it’s just to see how their day was. It’s nice to share stories of how we’ve made it through another day with someone who truly understands our situation,” Inbody noted.

Healthy Lifestyle

Inbody also keeps herself busy by focusing on health and fitness. She began running in college with her roommates. During a trip in 2002 with a campus group, some members suggested that they run a marathon together, to which she responded “Are you crazy?” Just as she had worked with determination in other parts of her life, she trained for her first marathon, which she ran in 2003. Unhappy with her time, she trained even more and improved her time for another marathon in 2004. Following the marathon, Inbody began bicycling. She later completed a half Ironman competition, the Austin Marathon, and a 2-day bike ride from Houston to Austin (about 180 miles).

Inbody’s newest passion is pursuing her personal-training certification. “Being active every day is so important and has been a big part of my sanity,” she said. Once she completes the certification, she hopes to have a better understanding of fitness and would like to help others to appreciate and achieve a new level of fitness.

Dog showing has been a hobby of Inbody’s, and for about 2 years, she showed her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. However, she hasn’t had time recently to continue showing. Although Inbody doesn’t plan on showing dogs again herself, she thinks her daughter may one day enjoy showing dogs, and Inbody would like to get Morgan started when she is a little older.

Whether she is balancing her position as Science Editor designer, her career, and her family’s needs or working on her personal training certification, Inbody remains almost invariably active and upbeat. “In addition to excellent skills, Tiffany has a wonderful temperament,” Gastel said. “She manages to juggle so many responsibilities and achieve so much without ever seeming hassled. She’s one of the most efficient people I know.”

Inbody enjoys her career and looks forward to remaining busy in various realms. “I really love my work in research, and I hope to have more time in the future to do more freelance work on the side and of course get even more into fitness and training,” Inbody says. “I’m excited to see where life takes us in the future. I’ve been very fortunate in life and my career.”

Barbara Mendoza, a graduate student in science and technology journalism at Texas A&M University, wrote this profile while an intern at Science Editor.

Editor’s note: Starting with the next issue of Science Editor, design will be donated by Aptara. Therefore, the current issue is Tiffany Inbody’s last as designer of Science Editor. Special thanks to Tiffany for the skill and devotion she has brought to the role. CSE has been fortunate indeed.