Get Involved: Being an ECM Guest Editor for Microbiology
Posted on August 6, 2022 by Dr Yinka Somorin
The ECM Guest Editing Scheme encourages ECM members to get involved in the Society’s journals by offering a chance to work with the Editors of our journals and gain an insight into the essential role they play in our publishing. In this blog, ECM Guest Editor Dr Yinka Somorin explains what he's learned from the scheme, and what he’s enjoyed most in his time working on a Special Collection for Microbiology
The Early Career Microbiologist (ECM) Guest Editing Scheme has given me the opportunity to contribute to the delivery of the Bacterial Cell Envelopes Special Collection to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Society's flagship journal, Microbiology. In this role, I have had the privilege of working with Professor Tracy Palmer, the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Microbiology.
Working on the Special Collection gave me the opportunity to learn about the current state of knowledge in bacterial cell surfaces and gain behind-the-scenes insights into the peer-review process. I am fascinated about how the pathogens modify their surface structure to subvert the host immune system . and how the understanding of cell envelopes can inform the development of new drugs, thereby contributing to the control of antimicrobial resistance. Parker and Davies  described how microcins could be exploited as therapeutic agents while Caroline Pearson et al.  provided insights into the structure and mechanism of integral membrane proteins – acyltransferase-3 (AT3) across many bacteria, their role in host colonisation and environmental survival of pathogens, as well as their potential as drug targets.
I have gained hands-on editorial experience by being actively involved in contacting contributing authors to submit their manuscripts, identifying suitable reviewers, tracking the progress of submissions, making decisions on reviewer’s feedback to authors, and liaising with the Publications team at the Society for subsequent actions. I feel valued and supported in this role as Prof. Palmer seeks my opinion at all stages and provided guidance during communication with authors. As part of the activities celebrating the 75 years of Microbiology, I had the privilege of co-chairing the session on “Biofilms and surface adhesion” with Prof Gavin Thomas at the Annual Conference 2022 in Belfast.
I have found my involvement in the Society very helpful in my professional development. Being part of the ECM Forum Committee and representing the ECM Forum on the Building Communities Committee has given me the opportunity to contribute to the impact the Society has on members’ careers. For example, I was recently on the Grants Review Working Group, which reviewed Grants offered by the Society and provided recommendations that would make them more effective in supporting our members. On a personal level, my involvement in the Society has helped in building my professional network. I have represented Microbiology Society on the Northern Ireland All Party Group on STEM and attended meetings at the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, where I gained experience on how researchers can engage with policymakers and influence policy.
The ECM Guest Editing Scheme is a major professional development opportunity for my next career step as I am better equipped to review and make editorial contributions to journals, and it provides evidence of my contribution to the microbiology community. I recently interviewed for a lectureship and a significant part of the leadership and impact I demonstrated were from opportunities provided by the Society. I highly recommend the scheme and encourage greater participation in the activities of the Society by early career researchers.
1. Jennings MP, Day CJ, Atack JM. How bacteria utilize sialic acid during interactions with the host: snip, snatch, dispatch, match and attach. Microbiology 2022;168:001157
2. Parker JK, Davies BW. Microcins reveal natural mechanisms of bacterial manipulation to inform therapeutic development. Microbiology 2022;168:001175
3. Pearson C, Tindall S, Potts JR, Thomas GH, van der Woude MW. Diverse functions for acyltransferase-3 proteins in the modification of bacterial cell surfaces. Microbiology 2022;168:001146