From the Associate Editor

Greetings! In this, my last issue of Swine Health and Production, Cate Dewey has offered me the chance to directly address our SHAP readership. As you probably know if you attended the Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, I will be leaving my post as Associate Editor--a post I've occupied for the past 9 years--to accept a job on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin--Eau Claire, where I hope to share with scientific and technical communication students the insights I've gained over the years here at SHAP.

As I write these words, my dominant emotion is gratitude for the tremendous opportunity Bob and Cate have given me. Thanks to their generosity, I've had a job that has not only earned me a livelihood, but has given me access to a "living laboratory" in scientific communication that has immeasurably enriched my understanding of the purposes and processes of science, medicine, and communication...and has provided me with a great PhD dissertation topic!

In particular, though, I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had to meet and work with a number of people whose talents have been so instrumental in making SHAP a success and my experience as Associate Editor a positive one. Nine years ago, Bob Morrison asked me to help him to change the official publication of the AASP from what it was then--a membership news publication called the AASP Newsletter (Figure 1)--into a refereed journal, which we decided to call "Swine Health and Production" (Figure 2). I don't think either of us really realized what we were taking on (I know I didn't!). For both of us, it was an exhilarating (albeit sometimes frustrating) task to devise the systems needed to initiate and maintain a new refereed journal. I'll always be grateful for Bob's patience with and trust in me during the early years of this learning curve--a time when it was painfully obvious I was flying by the seat of my pants. Thanks, Bob!

Bob and I realized early on that we'd need help in expanding the scope of the publication from a newsletter to a refereed journal, so we hired Dave Brown, whose breathtaking graphics have so effectively conveyed the ideas of our authors in a visual format over the years. Initially, Dave also served as Managing Editor--tracking manuscripts as they made their way through the referee process and helping deal with all the daily crises inherent to a busy editorial office. Dave is also responsible for implementing new permutations of the overall "look" of SHAP as it has evolved over the years (Figures 3 and 4). It is not hyperbole to say that not one single issue of SHAP could have been produced without Dave. Dave has always kept a low profile, so few members of the AASP have actually met him, but I know that many of our past authors would enthusiastically attest to his talents in executing visuals that, to my mind, represent one of the great strengths of SHAP. As for me, I am fervently thankful for being able to rely upon Dave's intelligence, thoughtfulness, talent, creativity, gentleness, and dedication every day that I have had this job--he has been both a teammate and a good friend.

As the years passed and Dave's other projects began to reduce the time he was able to devote to SHAP, we hired other people to assume the duties of Managing Editor. Many SHAP authors and referees will fondly remember their interactions with Christopher Scruton, Lynn Lord, Steve Claas, Carrie Daniel, and our current Managing Editor, Eileen Kuhlmann. I'm pleased to call all these people friends, too, and to acknowledge the invaluable contribution they've made to the success of SHAP. They have performed with competence and agility a baffling array of "behind-the-scenes" tasks to make the rest of us look good. Those of you who have authored or reviewed manuscripts know how vital the efforts of these people are.

I'm one of those fortunate few who have had enjoyed an unbroken succession of great bosses. Nearly 2 years ago, when Bob stepped down as Executive Editor of SHAP, Cate Dewey bravely agreed to assume his duties. She remained unfailingly cheerful during those early months, as the hideous enormity of the task she had undertaken gradually dawned on her. Undaunted, she has effectively crafted her own vision for SHAP, and I've had the pleasure of helping her guide the evolution of the journal toward that vision, molding it into an ever-more-rigorous source of information for the membership of the AASP. SHAP now truly bears her imprimatur, and I'm gratified that she's allowed me to be a part of this evolution. It comforts me to know that the SHAP project will continue in Cate's capable hands.

It also comforts me to know that the directorship of the AASP remains in the competent hands of Tom Burkgren, whose recent award for Meritorious Service is so richly deserved. With the help of Sue Schulteis, Tom has over the years smoothed my path, backed me up, and even helped me "bury a few bodies"; together, we've weathered innumerable challenges. Tom and Sue helped us negotiate our efforts to gain the approval of the Executive Committee for various initiatives, including our AASP Website/SHAP online project and the SWINE-L electronic discussion list. Tom's admirable ability to cajole companies into accepting a sponsoring role on our Industry Support Council has provided the resources to financially support SHAP and these other projects. All this, and he signs our paychecks too! I'll sadly miss being able to rely on the unfailingly competent and patient "backup" Tom and Sue have provided to me and the other SHAP editorial staff.

Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the very deep gratification I've felt over the years in working with the people who have played roles as SHAP authors and reviewers (particularly those who have served as members of the Editorial Board). I consider it a rare privilege to have worked with these individuals--some of the smartest, most accomplished people in the world, acknowledged experts and leaders in their field--and, with them, to meet the substantial challenges to scientific communication that emerge in the editorial process of a refereed journal. It is impossible for me to articulate how dramatically the lessons they have taught me, individually and collectively, have enriched my understanding of communication and science and the relationship between them. This list of people now runs into the hundreds, making it impossible to name each individual here--but you all know who you are. In my future roles as teacher and scholar, I will rely daily on the legacy of understanding and knowledge you've given me.

Thank you, everyone, for your support of the SHAP project and for making my involvement with the AASP such a pleasure. Thanks, also, for the certificate of recognition I received at the Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, which will hang in a place of honor in my new office. I wish all of you a bright and prosperous future!

--Ruth Cronje