Meet the Editor: David Gibson

Not long to go now until the 2018 British Ecological Society Annual Meeting where you have a chance to chat to some of our Senior Editors. Get to know the people behind the decision letters in our Meet the Editor series. Below, we talk to David Gibson.


gibsonWhat can you tell us about the first paper you published?

It’s a classic with 39 citations. It was based upon work I did as a Research Assistant while at the University of Oklahoma studying for my MSc in Botany. Part II that I led was not so easily published, see question 6 below.

What’s your favourite species and why?

Festuca longifolia – a small grass that I studied for my 2005 Biological Flora of the British Isles account in Journal of Ecology (Gibson & Taylor 2005). I’m still waiting for this paper to be cited. Help me out here someone!

Who inspired you most as a student?

Ian Dury and The Blockheads – look them up. Academically? My Secondary School biology teacher, Dr. Cynthia A. Millband.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new skill, what would it be?

Time travel. Seriously, to be a polyglot or play the piano, preferably both.

Are you a good cook? What’s your signature dish?

I’m getting better at tofu tikka masala although it probably doesn’t resemble anything you’d get at a good restaurant.

Please share a [funny] story about a paper you had rejected.

The paper I took the lead on and submitted to Journal of Applied Ecology as part II in the series (see q.1) was rejected, twice before being published elsewhere in a journal that has now been discontinued. The Editor at JAppE described my manuscript as a “methodological morass”, a term that I’ve been tempted but never used myself as an editor.

What’s your favourite sports team?

Brighton and Hove Albion. My home team.

If you could recommend one place for people to travel to on holiday, where would it be and why?

The Himalayas and can I come with you? Somewhere that I’ve been to, it has to be Paris.

What was the first album you owned?

Not counting the embarrassing Hits ’69 album that my Grandma gave me, the 1970 debut self-titled Mungo Jerry album by the British jug-band Mungo Jerry. It came with a pair of 3D glasses to better view the cover. Never heard of them? You do know their one hit, “In The Summertime”.

If any fictional character could join your lab, who would it be and why?

Astronaut Mark Watney (The Martian by Andy Weir). Since he can grow potatoes on Mars, he should be able to keep our plants alive in the greenhouse.

How many British Ecological Society annual meetings have you attended? Which one was the best?

More than most people since my first in 1981. The 2013 BES/INTECOL Centenary (and here) meeting in London was  my favourite.

Are you attending #BES2018? If so, when is the best opportunity for people to meet you?

Sorry no. Reach me @DavidJohnGibson or on Skype by arrangement.


David Gibson is Professor of Plant Biology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He is interested in all aspects of plant population and community ecology, trying to understand the how and why of plants, especially in grassland ecosystems. Much of his research is on invasive species, and is often concerned with restoration.       

Read about our other editors:

David Gibson

Mark Rees

Richard Bardgett

Amy Austin

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