A chat with Susan Jones

To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Nature Reviews Microbiology and to give our readers a glimpse behind the curtains, we asked a few of our past editors about their views on microbiology, the journal and their experiences of working with the journal.
A chat with Susan Jones

You’ve been an editor with Nature Reviews Microbiology previously. How did you get into editing? What are you currently doing?

During my ten-years as a post-doc in various labs I spent quite a bit of time helping students and other colleagues with writing their theses, papers, grants and presentations, and discovered this was something I enjoyed a lot.  I also taught adult classes in Biology and Chemistry for entrance to University and began to realise that whilst I loved the lab, I was equally passionate about communicating science. When the chance came to join the launch team of Nature Reviews Microbiology I was thrilled.  Microbiology is one of the most diverse of disciplines, and learning more about every type of microorganism appealed to me a lot. Plus, this was my specialism at University and during PhD and post-doc work.  After spending six years at the journal, I moved to PLOS MEDICINE and spent four years editing primary infectious disease research, and am now a Senior editor at Nature Biotechnology, handling primary submissions in microbiology, synthetic biology, plant technology and clinical technologies. Every day in an editor role brings opportunities to help authors communicate their work to the widest possible audience as well as learning something new. 15 years on I still love it!

What was your favourite part of being an editor for Nature Reviews Microbiology?

I have three favourite parts. The first favourite part was the team. David and Sheilagh were the very best colleagues I could ever have had as a new editor.  Both had oodles of experience, and even better, we all got along brilliantly. The second part was the buzz when someone we really wanted to have as an author was asked to write a review and said ‘yes!’. Reviews are undoubtedly a lot of work and authors agreeing never ceased to make me smile. Focus issues were my final favourite part of the role. Working together with senior authors to put together an exciting set of themed content was always fraught with worries about whether everything would come together on time, but it always did. Even better than that, feedback from collections was often very positive and the day when the print copy landed on my desk was a happy one. 

From all the articles that you handled for the journal, is there one that you particularly remember and that stands out? If so, can you tell us why?

So many to choose from, and for so many different reasons (not all of which are printable), but I will plump for this review:

The biology of mating in Candida albicans
Alexander Johnson
Nature Reviews Microbiology 1, 106–116 (2003)

The reason is that I learnt so much from editing it. My degree was dual honours microbiology and virology, and my PhD was bacterial genetics, so the world of fungi was completely unfamiliar to me. This was one of my first commissioned articles that came out in print, and definitely the first in a field I was unfamiliar with. After editing this review I fell in love with fungi in all their complexity.

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