To be or not to be…an Editor?

I am not the most wonderful, eloquent writer but I work at it.  I can easily revise a manuscript a 1000 times and still find a word or even entire sentences to revise or remove after my publication appears. It is remarkable to me that famous scientists like Dr. Charles Michener at University of Kansas wrote just one or two drafts long-hand before the manuscript was typed up and sent to press.

Thus, I am flummoxed how I rose into the editorial ranks of journals in my field.  It started as a trickle, when I was in graduate school, with invitations from journals to review articles by others.  Who me?  Couldn’t be!  I don’t know nearly enough about chrysomelids, systematics, or evolution to evaluate research by others!

Around 2003, during my graduate career at Cornell University, Dr. Terry Seeno, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Sacramento, began asking me to take over as Editor of the international newsletter, Chrysomela, which he began in 1979.  This was extraordinarily intimidating but Terry is persistent.  He never went away; after a visit to Sacramento, I came away with a new “job”, a heap of printed newsletters, 2 binders of stuff, and a crash course in InDesign.  Under pressure, a little excited and a little unwilling, I became Editor of this newsletter that serves over 300 chrysomelid beetle fans around the world.

After graduate school, I found myself included on editorial committees for the Coleopterists Bulletin and then the Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society (JKES).  More invitations to review kept coming. Another big junction appeared in 2014, when I found myself between a rock and a hard place for JKES when Dr. Roy Beckemeyer in Wichita, KS, had to step back from the journal and we had no volunteer Editor. I had numerous papers (for Beetles of Peru) already in review so I had to figure out F-A-S-T how to help keep the journal afloat, manuscripts moving forward in the review process, so my own projects would not stall. And so I found myself as the Editor of the JKES, while I looked around, hounded people, pounded on doors to find a real Editor.

Today, I feel a little more competent to evaluate manuscripts on those few topics that I’ve published on. I am a subject editor for ZooKeys and an advisory member for editorial committee of Journal of Natural History.  Currently, I am taking another step up this chain, as co-editor with Dr. Michael Schmitt, University of Greiswald, Germany, of a special volume of collected papers for Research on Chrysomelidae or RoC 7.

It is rewarding to help promote my subject interests and beetles by managing manuscripts and their authors through the review process to a beautiful published product. I am still uncertain if these activities help me write better or faster, but it feels satisfying when another “chapter” in the biology and systematics of Chrysomelidae, beetles, and insects is added to the universal library.

Further reading:

Chrysomela newsletter is available online,