Meet the new Access Microbiology Editors in Chief: Helina Marshall

Posted on November 4, 2021   by Microbiology Society

With Access Microbiology currently undergoing an exciting transformation into an open research platform, the Microbiology Society has appointed two new Editors-in-Chief for the platform, Dr Georgios Efthimiou (University of Hull, UK) and Dr Helina Marshall (Queen’s University Belfast, UK). Both of these Society members have been involved since the conception of the journal, developing their editorial skills as Editor Mentees and eventually Editors handling a host of diverse papers across microbiology. They have been deeply involved all through our consultation process over the future direction of the new open research platform and are longstanding members of the Microbiology Society. We are excited to see what the future brings with them at the helm. We spoke to Helina about her career and aspirations for the platform.


I am currently a Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast. My research focuses on the host–pathogen interactions in respiratory infection and the mechanisms that different bacteria utilise to evade the host immune system.

When did you first decide you wanted to do science?

Ever since childhood I have been interested in medical sciences, initially wanting to be a vet, then a doctor and then with the popularity of CSI, a forensic scientist. My interest in microbiology and infectious disease really grew after spending time in East Africa, leading me to choose to study biological sciences and microbiology at undergraduate.

What is your biggest professional achievement?

I would say that my biggest professional achievement so far was getting some of my PhD work published, we were the first to demonstrate a potential relationship between the capsule biochemistry and nanomechanics of Streptococcus independent of the bacterial strain, it was such an exciting interdisciplinary study for me, but I was apprehensive about how it might be viewed by researchers on either side. Thankfully it was well received.

What would you be doing in your career if you weren't a scientist? 

I think that if I wasn’t a scientist, I would have liked to be a medic, though I would probably still have specialised in infectious diseases.

What does it mean to you to be the Editor-in-Chief of Access Microbiology?  

I’m very excited, as well as a little terrified to be taking on this role! I’ve been involved with Access Microbiology from day one as an Editor Mentee and then an Editor and have been really proud of how far it has come, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it continue to grow.

Why are Society journals important?

One of the best things about societies are their ability to bring together and support their research community, and positively promote the members they represent. Scientific societies are of huge value and provide so many services, such as conferences, education, advocating for their members, grants etc. I think many people don’t realise that a good portion of the financial support for these activities is provided by the society journal portfolio, and that these activities would be severely impacted without them.

Why do you think authors should be publishing their articles Open Access, and getting involved with Publish and Read?

Publishing Open Access allows everyone immediate and unrestricted access to the latest research as it becomes available. This not only increases the visibility of that work but can accelerate projects and, where possible, reduce duplication of studies.  Publish and Read is a great way for authors to not only publish their manuscripts completely Open Access but to also get free access to any other publications that would otherwise be behind a paywall across all of the Microbiology Society journal portfolio. Overall, it makes the process of becoming completely Open Access much more financially viable.

Access Microbiology will be converting to an open research platform in early 2022. Why is this such an exciting opportunity for the journal?

The transformation of Access Microbiology into an open peer review platform is an exciting project, at the forefront of publishing strategy. Society publishers have become a testing bed for new publishing opportunities and the creation of our open research platform allows us to test novel processes and technologies without a lot of the risks. Open research and open scholarship are the future of publishing, and we have already demonstrated through our editorial board at ACMI that we are very much at the forefront of publishing development.

What’s the best thing about being a member of the Microbiology Society?

The best thing about being a member of the Microbiology Society is the network of colleagues and good friends it has given me. Some of my biggest supporters and mentors have been those that I have met through the Microbiology Society. Also knowing that every year there will be a well organised and wonderfully diverse conference to divulge in all things microbiology.

What do you think the future holds for microbiology?

I think if COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that microbiology really does matter! I do believe that the future of microbiology is exciting and hopefully has inspired another generation of dedicated young microbiologists.