Max Häggblom is the Editor-in-Chief of FEMS Microbiology Ecology and is a Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at Rutgers University, USA. Max specializes in environmental and applied microbiology.
A common theme for his research group is the exploration of “unusual appetites” of bacteria, whether in the biodegradation and detoxification of new xenobiotic chemicals or natural products, respiration of rare metalloids or life in the cold.
What inspired you to get involved with FEMS Microbiology Ecology?
“My first involvement was as an author. At some point I was asked to review manuscripts and was then invited to join the Editorial Board in 1998. A few years later I was asked to join the team of handling editors.
A definite highlight was being asked to serve as Editor-in-Chief of FEMS Microbiology Ecology. It is a major commitment, but also rewarding to be in a key position to develop our journal and serve both our authors and readers.”
What activities have you been involved in as Editor-in-Chief?
“As Editor-in-Chief I am frequently asked to speak about the journal and provide guidance on preparing research papers for publication. For example, when in Guangzhou, China this March, I visited several universities and research institutes to present workshops on “Get Your Work Published (in FEMS Microbiology Ecology)” to faculty, research staff and students. The institutes included the Guangdong Institute of Eco-Environmental and Soil Sciences, Jinan University – Institute of Groundwater and Earth Sciences, Guangzhou University – School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Sun Yat-Sen University – College of Ecology and Evolution, and at South China University of Technology.
In my presentations I explained how to organize research data and tell a “story”, guiding the participants in the basics in writing a paper and how to prepare a manuscript for submission. I also clarified journal policies and stressed the importance of the ethical guidelines. The serious concerns with text plagiarism and other forms of research misconduct were discussed in detail, including the potential consequences for authors.
In my workshops I also provided a description of the editorial process and how manuscripts are evaluated by reviewers and editors. Finally, guidance on how to deal with revision, as well as rejection, was offered. The workshops also provided general information on FEMS and its family of journals, explaining the benefits they offer to authors and readers, and the important role that society publications play in investing in science.”
How did your science journey bring you to where you are today?
“I was early on interested in the microbial world. Having grown up in an industry town in Finland I was also concerned with the consequences of environmental pollution. The recognition that microbes had the power to degrade anthropogenic pollutants opened up an amazing journey for me, which I continue on today.
My lab is interested in understanding the fate of toxic chemicals in the environment and elucidating some of the “unusual appetites” of microorganisms. We work on studying the physiology, ecology and taxonomy of bacteria in diverse habitats and those involved in biotransformation and biodegradation of anthropogenic, and some natural chemicals.”
What advice would you give to today’s early career researchers?
“Be passionate about your science and get involved in your microbiological societies.”
Keep updated on all new cutting-edge developments in ecological and environmental microbiology in FEMS Microbiology Ecology.