Spotlight - Michael Miller

Name: Michael Miller
Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Role with Journal of Dairy Science (JDS): Senior editor, Dairy Foods section

Can you tell us a bit about your background, and what your current research is focused on?
I’m a food microbiologist who is especially interested in the microbiology of dairy foods. For example, I’m very interested in lactic acid bacteria, which are widely used as starter cultures in fermented dairy products and are often added as probiotics. In addition, I have been very active in addressing food safety issues with Hispanic-style fresh cheeses such as queso fresco.

What advice do you have for grad students or other early-career scientists submitting their first manuscripts? What are common oversights you see?
One pet peeve as a reviewer/editor is the lack of actual discussion in the discussion section. Often, the discussion can seem like just a review of the results section, which is not the point. I tell my grad students to identify three or four aspects of the study that are worth discussing. For example, this can be a surprising result, the practicality of your solution to a problem, or how your conclusion fits into the published literature. Once you identify the three to four aspects that are worth expanding, you now have the topics for three to four paragraphs in your discussion. I find this helps my new grad students write a discussion that is not just a results summary.

A second common issue with manuscripts is inappropriate conclusions. Perhaps there is some pressure to make a conclusion seem larger than it is. Resist that pressure. Reviewers find overstated conclusions quickly and are less likely to view the rest of the manuscript positively when this flaw exists.

Why should authors publish in JDS?
We are the preeminent journal in our field.

What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing the dairy industry, and how is JDS part of the solution?
I’m not dialed in to the dairy foods industry, so I’m not sure about their current problems. However, JDS is the place to go to find answers to technical problems.