ASM Election Slate
It is our pleasure to announce the newly elected ASM President-Elect, members of the ASM Board of Directors and Council on Microbial Sciences with terms beginning on July 1, 2022. Congratulations to our newly elected officers and council members, and thanks to all of the dedicated and accomplished candidates who stood for election.
We would also like to extend our thanks to all the members who participated in this year's election. Your engagement plays a crucial role in the great work of our Society!
Which positions were up for election?
- National Officers.
- President-elect. (1 position)
- Board of Directors.
- At-Large Director. (2 positions)
- Council on Microbial Sciences (COMS).
- COMS Chair. (1 position)
- COMS Vice Chair. (1 position)
- At-Large Councilors. (3 positions)
- Division Interdisciplinary Councilors. (8 positions)
Please send all questions and concerns regarding the election to Diana Librizzi, Senior Specialist, Volunteer & Government Engagement, at Dlibrizzi@asmusa.org.
President Elect: One-year term (2022-2023)
Professor of Genetics and of Microbiology & Immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
With the public focus on the pandemic, the ASM is at a pivotal moment as a Society to use this opportunity to better meet our mission of advancing the microbial sciences for the benefit of our members and the broader community. The recent effort that has gone into reorganizing the governance structure of ASM and updating our technology infrastructure has put us in an excellent position to be proactive in thinking about issues we may need to address in the next 5 to 10 years. My goal is to work to ensure that ASM continues on this path to being a forward-looking organization with the ability to rapidly take advantage of opportunities that arise and respond to unexpected challenges. At the same time, it is important to continue to creatively support core services that have made ASM so valuable to its members, while doing it in a way that excites and energizes current, and the next generations of, microbiologists. I feel these core missions of the Society are to:
- Support microbial science research by providing competitive options for publishing and outstanding conferences for scientists to present their work and exchange ideas. I strongly endorse how ASM has re-imagined the interactions between different disciplines that are part of microbiology today. Breaking down barriers and promoting interactions will only strengthen the science as well as the community.
- Support the career and professional development of microbiologists at all levels and in all subdisciplines (teaching, clinical, research, industry, government, etc.) by creating and providing programs and resources for networking.
- Be the "go to" source for information on issues related to microbiology, both for our members and for the public. Microbiology touches virtually every aspect of human (and global) life; thus, continued investment in ASM’s advocacy program will enable us to provide a trusted voice and source of general information to the public. This program also will provide members with the tools, training and opportunities to effectively get involved in science policy advocacy.
At-Large Directors: Three-year term (2022-2025)
Professor, Emory University School of Medicine
I am excited to meet and collaborate with other ASM Board members. I think ASM’s reputation is good but could be enhanced if the mission was made clearer. For example, I could find no “mission statement” on the ASM web site. If this was more clearly articulated (which I would anticipate would state its intention to serve more than “American” members), ASM’s global reputation, and therefore influence, would become more apparent.
I imagine a future in which ASM takes the lead in helping to develop agendas, along with U.S. and international agencies, for numerous public health initiatives. I think there could be even stronger connections with NIH, CDC and WHO. A new director is coming onboard at the NIH, and I hope that they are already involved in ASM or are willing to work with ASM. I am in Atlanta and would love to be more involved with the CDC.
I also see ASM being a major forum breaking down barriers to education inequality both within the U.S. and globally. This is happening already, and I think the ability to reach out beyond “in person” meetings has actually helped to fuel this process. The idea that ASM Microbe was World Microbe Forum in 2021 was an outstanding step in the right direction. I think these sorts of multi-time zoned sessions helped to bring people together that might not have ever met one another. This should be encouraged in smaller meetings or informal working groups as well.
I realize that I am not a member of a group that is typically considered “diverse” or “underrepresented.” Because of this, I make every effort to listen and be sensitive to the needs of others, recognizing that they may not have been provided the opportunities that I have had. My laboratory environment has always been as diverse as possible, because I believe bringing in people with different experiences and viewpoints is important to thoroughly tackle any problem. With that said, I am very sensitive that sometimes individuals are included (on projects or committees) just because they are of a “certain group” and their own work suffers because of the extra added obligations. As an at-large board director, I hope I would help to make sure all board members felt like their voices were being heard, ask what would make their engagement easier and see how they would suggest engaging others. I would try to help empower the board to implement these ideas and bring them to fruition.
Director of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) Graduate Program; Professor, Human Biology Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased awareness of microbiology, and the rapid development of safe, effective vaccines represents a huge triumph of the biomedical research enterprise. ASM has played a valuable and high-profile role in advocating for rapid certification and deployment of diagnostics, genetic surveillance, equity in vaccine distribution and curated access to emerging research. I would like ASM to leverage these accomplishments to promote ongoing infrastructure for pathogen surveillance (both known and emerging) as well as development of new and improved vaccines for additional diseases (infectious and noninfectious). In addition to the pandemic, climate change impact can no longer be ignored and requires urgent action. ASM should use its experience with international partnerships and collaboration across academic, governmental and business organizations to catalyze solutions in this arena. As an organization we must continue to invest in the development of our members through providing relevant, timely and accessible educational, career development and scientific exchange opportunities. In these efforts we must center inclusive diversity. To this end ASM should leverage pandemic-forced innovations in virtual communication to develop hybrid platforms for meetings that generate excellent user experiences for a combination of live and virtual participation. Finally, we need to acknowledge the disruptions the pandemic has wreaked on student learning, junior researchers and members in low-resource settings. It will be important to reach out to all our communities to learn how the Society can best support their needs in the coming years.
COMS Chair: 1-year term (2022-2023)
William Henry Fitzbutler Collegiate Professor in Internal Medicine/Infectious Diseases Division and Microbiology & Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School
As chair of COMS, I would be in a position to coordinate the entirety of the ASM membership, leveraging this considerable intellectual resource to focus on important problems related to microbiology at all levels. As I have noted, COMS is one of the major think-tanks for the ASM. The ASM honorific leadership group, the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), also plays a key role as a source for novel ideas within the ASM. I feel that the AAM and COMS can serve complementary roles in bringing the diverse, immense resources embodied by the entire membership of the ASM to bear to the central goal of the ASM strategic plan, namely, to promote and advance microbial sciences. While AAM and COMS have overlapping roles in bringing the intellectual resources of the ASM to bear, I think that COMS is positioned to help the entire membership of the Society in terms of other elements of the ASM Strategic Plan. COMS can serve to help advance the science, networks and careers of individual members and serve as a conduit to help learn the needs of the community and disseminate ideas and resources to the membership. I would work hard to make sure that COMS can foster exchange between the membership and between the broader membership and the leadership of ASM. All members of ASM have unique skills and perspectives that they can contribute, and I would like to have COMS serve as a way that these can be exchanged amongst all members of the Society.
There are many ways in which this important job can be carried out. I think that meetings such as ASM Microbe will continue to be important venues for the open exchange of ideas. In addition, if we have learned a key lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that there are many other means by which information and ideas can be rapidly disseminated. While virtual/digital communities will never completely replace physical ones, they can serve as an important addition to our ability to communicate. In order for this to happen, we do need to make sure that there is equitable, ready access to the technology and infrastructure for virtual exchanges. COMS can serve to ensure this fair access and to promote the creation and maintenance of virtual and physical communities of microbiologists.
As a group that can identify and assemble novel ideas, COMS can help the ASM leverage the capability of our membership to tackle problems and benefit the worldwide community. Obviously, areas related to medical microbiology and emerging zoonoses are foremost in our minds in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, ASM is positioned to help address a myriad of other pressing problems, where microbiologic approaches can contribute to a solution. For example, climate change is another important area with a critical microbial component. While microbially produced methane contributes to global warming, microbially generated biofuels can also limit the production of other greenhouse gases. Microbial bioremediation can also help mitigate environmental problems. The role of microbes in agriculture and food security is another area where the resources of the ASM membership can play a key part. I would be honored to have the opportunity to help lead COMS in ways that contribute to the ability of the ASM to serve as a visionary society that acts as the voice of microbial sciences to all humankind.
COMS Vice Chair: 1-year term (2022-2023)
Research Microbiologist, U.S. Geological Survey
The change in ASM’s mission from promoting and advancing “microbiology” to advancing “microbial science” has resonated with me. I see this change as reflective of the evolution occurring in all scientific fields. To make new discoveries, science requires collaborative work with scientists from diverse fields and personal backgrounds. Valuing diversity is the best path forward for discovery, and as a part of COMS I aim to facilitate and promote all aspects of diversity in the microbial sciences.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a passion of mine and is at the heart of what I do in my interactions in the scientific community and personal life. Without diverse perspectives, we miss out on ideas that can launch science forward, challenge us to do more, and be more impactful with every action. Promoting DEI starts with the individual and grows to the team, but ultimately, is dependent on institutions and organizations supporting and facilitating change. I will honor the diversity and input of COMS and ASM members by establishing a variety of methods for communication that consider different personality types and communication styles. Many people prefer immediate and direct feedback, which promotes speaking up during meetings, direct and to-the-point emails and quick diagnostic conversations over the phone. Others prefer to have time to think and develop responses and might prefer to provide anonymous feedback during large meetings. To address these differences, I will provide an agenda in advance of all meetings to COMS members so they can process and brainstorm ahead of meetings and implement the use of tools like Mentimeter, a platform for soliciting anonymous feedback and brainstorming ideas in large groups. I will consider the accessibility needs of COMS members and the broader scientific community and implement, to the best of my ability, accommodations that meet the needs of people with disabilities. I aim to learn more and respect these needs to promote inclusion.
I will promote equality through transparency and communication. In recent years, the scientific community has begun to address transparency through large efforts like open data and preprint publications; grassroots efforts like the Riffomonas Project, which aims to improve the reproducibility of microbiome analyses; and Science Twitter, where the science process is discussed openly, problems are challenged and successes are celebrated. As a Society, ASM can do more by taking a leadership role in transparency by helping lift the veil off science.
At-Large Councilors: 3-year term (2022-2025)
Professor of Molecular Biology, The University of the West Indies
As I approach this election process, my primary vision continues to be representing the views of the international community within the Society as we contribute collectively to the further development of ASM as a global giant in the microbial sciences. I have learned a lot from the current and past leadership of COMS, within the context of navigating the early years and setting the Council on a certain trajectory. There are several thorny issues within COMS that have been resolved, including the advancement of the vice-chair to the chair, without recourse to separate elections, streamlining the communities within COMS, clarification of the roles and responsibilities of divisional chairs and greater involvement of the international community in ideation and participation within the Society and Microbe meetings. It has been quite fulfilling so far. I think that there are even more feats to be accomplished, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its global implications. I feel that my continued participation will be even more valuable and will make the Society a better place for communities of domestic and international members and a broader fellowship of microbial science professionals.
I think that my extensive experiences in ASM as chair, ambassador leadership circle, as country ambassador to Jamaica, as president of the WIGUT (Jamaica), and as immediate past head of the Department of Basic Medical Sciences at UWI, Mona, are testament to my ability to work with diverse groups of people and to recognize the immense value that the different perspectives and cultures bring to bear in an organization. Diversity, equity, and inclusion mean that the village that constitutes the Society is complex, made up of individuals with similar, but diverse, needs, and that all need both a voice and access to resources to further their interests in the microbial sciences. Clearly, involvement at the "lower" level in getting more people interested in pursuing STEM careers, and the role that ASM could play, is one such challenge. The Black Lives Matter movement, which arose out of the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis, MN, has rightly focused on systemic racism within the social fabric and has caused an international recognition of the significant, entrenched disparity that exists. Unfortunately, this disparity also exists within the sciences. One of the interesting aspects of participating in the salary survey over the past 2 years is the realization that I am among the 1% of Black professors who participated. In addition to this disparity, my salary level was below the 25th percentile, which begs the (larger) question about the role that ASM could play in that aspect of parity, equity and inclusion within the microbial sciences. I think that the Society is a great organization that can further advance the microbial sciences, and I am committed to being a part of that process.
In summary, I bring to the table a strong commitment of time and talent; governance, negotiation and advocacy skills; and the ability to mentor and motivate young scientists, all of which will undoubtedly assist me in furthering the strategic goals of the Society.
University of Rochester Medical Center, Associate Professor
Throughout my career, I have worked alongside my colleagues within the university system to enact a local vision for microbiology training that encompasses teaching, research and career development ideals. Although fulfilling, the opportunity to serve as a COMS At-Large Councilor offers the potential to align my interests with ASM as a national society dedicated to steering the future of the discipline. It offers a broader and more diverse platform to think about and potentially contribute to microbiology education at all levels, training experiences, public outreach and integration with other sciences on a larger scale. I think we face 3 broad challenges that interface with the ASM strategic plan. The first is recognizing trends that present opportunities to expand educational outreach. Unprecedented access to information at increasingly younger ages means that the target audience for teaching critical thinking and basic scientific facts is younger than ever before. Capturing that audience for science education is essential for ensuring that future adults have the tools to make informed choices and for efforts to diversify the pool of learners who might become scientists. Second, we must recognize that the professional priorities and needs of members from different disciplines and regions may not be identical. No single platform, program, or viewpoint, will fit all. Understanding a multitude of voices means first listening, then distilling, then clarifying how we can best support members through constantly evolving, and sometimes niche-specific, goals. Finally, a scientific advisory body of microbiologists must have an integrated view of all science and technologies. Interaction with other scientific societies and groups is paramount. For example, epidemiology and communication influence public policies, structural biology and genetics inform vaccine developments and microbes can play a role in climate change. Sustaining a position for ASM as a premier organization devoted to promoting education, research and global engagement requires that we be prepared to support microbiologists through innovative initiatives that bridge and engage scientists across multiple disciplines and careers. One of the most exciting aspects of COMS participation is the potential to develop ideas and recommendations that foster and support the role of microbiologists in catalyzing some of these changes. Perhaps that’s a microbiologist-centric view, but isn’t that appropriate for an ASM COMS At-Large councilor?
Co-founder, Scientific Director, Corporación Corpogen Research Center
If elected to the position, I would support ASM’s strategic plan by contributing with a broad perspective in the field of microbial sciences to further the aims of the society and increase the impact of its programs and activities. Given my experience working outside the U.S. and with scientists from diverse backgrounds, I can help to identify priorities, strengths and opportunities to boost ASM’s global presence. Importantly, I would work towards ASM’s objectives of promoting equity and inclusion in activities that range from defining research priorities to promoting visibility and opportunities for underrepresented groups in publications.
Division Interdisciplinary Councilors: 3-year term (2022-2025)
Medical Director, ARUP Laboratories, University of Utah
If elected to the position, I would solicit diverse opinions on issues facing ASM and do my best to find common ground to advance its mission. I would advocate for programs to increase microbiology exposure and awareness among children, with dual goals of stirring excitement for learning and discovery in microbiology and increasing scientific literacy overall. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted widespread lack of trust in science, which I believe could be mitigated over time by stimulating children’s interest in microbiology, epidemiology and other related fields. I would also support approaches to better highlight the beneficial roles microbes can play in the environment and in medicine, and would encourage interdisciplinary partnerships in these areas. Finally, I would advocate for a clinical laboratory regulatory framework that protects patients from harm while avoiding approaches that stifle innovation and discourage test improvement over time.
Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
I am honored to stand for re-election as an ASM interdisciplinary councilor. My research is aimed at better understanding how microbes mediate matter and energy flow within the Earth’s biosphere, from microbes living in deep ocean ecosystems, to mammalian and invertebrate microbiomes. My work is also aimed at developing novel tools that allow us to better understand the role that microbes play in running the biosphere. Our developments range from continuous flow bioreactors, to marine anaerobic methanotrophic archaea, to underwater mass spectrometers that directly measure the impact of microbial activity on geochemical processes.
Currently, as a first-term COMS interdisciplinary councilor, I am working with my COMS colleagues to help make ASM the epicenter of microbial science and education, and to do so in a manner that cross-cuts some of our largest professional and cultural barriers. We are working on programs to facilitate dialogue among biotechnologists, medical microbiologists and environmental microbiologists. We are working to identify how the Society can play an even more prominent educational role in global affairs. We want to see ASM’s Connect become a “one stop shop” for high-quality, curated information on the microbial sciences. Because we all have a great many commitments, these programs are—by design—aimed at making it easier for us to remain professionally engaged.
Most importantly, we need to make the Society a welcoming environment for all members. The Society has a unique opportunity to demonstrate, via microbial science and education, how open respectful dialogue is a critical component of building a more just and equitable world. If I’m re-elected, I hope to help ASM meet and exceed these aspirations.
Associate Professor and Chair of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of Maryland
One of the most enriching parts of my professional life is to engage with new ideas and people with whom I have not traditionally been able to engage and work. It energizes me to learn new topics and work to integrate views that I was previously not aware of. I seek to transfer this approach to my role in COMS and to promote curiosity and collaboration, should I be elected.
It is also a priority for me to further integrate aspects of diversity, equity, inclusion and access into the strategies and activities that COMS will be involved in and to promote this throughout ASM. The foundation for this important work has already been put in place by ASM. However, I feel strongly that we must work harder to integrate DEI into our lifestyle and views as microbiologists, so it is not an "add-on" to what we do as professionals or private people. I work with many underrepresented undergraduate students and international graduate students, who often do not have access to research experiences and mentoring and who do not know about ASM and what the society has to offer. This has taught me that, in addition to DEI, we actively need to break down the barriers that limit access to information and opportunities, and COMS can play an important role in this also. It is my goal to increase the information about COMS, and the interaction with ASM, in order to reduce the lack of access to information about how organizations work, and so that your voice can be heard.
It takes time, presence and patience to gain trust within a community. The first time that I engage with students in the semester or with external stakeholders, I make sure to introduce myself by briefly explaining my path so that people know where I come from. I do my best to create an inclusive and low-stake environment by soliciting questions and comments many times during the introduction. It is also important for me to create an environment with opportunity and time for me to listen and learn what the stakeholders think and how they envision that we, together, can build trust. Several times, people have expressed that the top-down approach has been practiced before and that this created distrust. I would like to hear about these experiences so that I can include these aspects and concerns in my engagement with the community over time. My approach to COMS will be similar, and I aim to be a messenger who has the opportunity to bring the community input forward to "bigger" ASM.
Professor, North Carolina State University
The Committee on Microbial Sciences serves its membership well if it promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion in all activities and programs of the Society. Microbiology is a perfect venue to engage K-12 students and citizen science in the wonder of life, which we clearly need in order to promote and engage underrepresented groups in science early in life. Science is not boring; we need to captivate! In these arenas, we are called to better communicate our science and the findings of our colleagues. As noted in my bio statement, my career experiences broaden my perspective on the potential of all, and the responsibility of we who currently benefit. The undergraduate experience needs to continue advancing science engagement through CURE courses, summer programs and student involvement in industry internships. The variety of company sizes, international composition and employee diversity (such as that in the NC Research Triangle Park, NCSU Centennial Campus, Boston and California areas) provide interns with perspectives on “people like me” with rewarding scientific careers in industry. COMS can collaborate with industry representatives to increase these opportunities. Related to this, there are opportunities for ongoing professional development courses (similar to, but different from, clinical training) in biotechnology and biomanufacturing that ASM and the microbial sciences can offer these industries. ASM has transitioned from a subdiscipline focus (divisions) to a broader interdisciplinary focus that is potentially more engaging and inclusive. This may still need some tuning so that all members have options for both focused and broadly cross-discipline venues for presenting, learning and overall communicating science. Finally, energy, food, the environment, climate change and health and well-being are all served by the microbial sciences. High-throughput data collection of nucleic acids and proteins opens windows for further hypothesis-driven experimental design relevant to all of these areas. Our interdisciplinary programs should integrate across modes or styles of conducting scientific discovery so that students and career scientists are prepared to collaborate, analyze and communicate the varied outcomes.
Infectious Disease Medical Science Liaison, Biomerieux
If elected, I hope to serve as a liaison between clinical microbiology, clinical science and industry to identify scientific trends and gaps that can be addressed to help expand the role of ASM and its membership. Additionally, I can bring a unique medical laboratory science perspective to the table, one that is historically lacking. I plan to connect with members of the microbiology community through digital forums and in-person sessions to understand needs and learn from others. Through my science communication efforts, I hope to serve as a vetted and reliable information source. I hope to contribute to a larger sense of belonging for the microbiology community and promote acceptance, diversity and inclusion. Ultimately, I love microbiology and hope to share that joy with others who want to learn, grow and share their knowledge within the realm of microbial sciences.
Associate Professor, UMass Chan Medical School
Overall, I hope to use the breadth of my scientific expertise and my ability to build personal relationships to learn about and understand the needs of our current ASM community, as well as help make the strategic plans necessary to ensure we are best supporting our society members now and into the future.
Postdoctoral candidate, Weill Cornell Medical College
If given the opportunity, I will leverage my extended network across academia and industry (and what I have already learned traversing it) to enable the ASM’s aims of accomplishing field-spanning, innovative microbiology.
Specifically, I would propose splitting ASM’s potential interdisciplinary goals relating to its overall strategy into 3 broad aims:
1) Optimizing interdisciplinary interactions.
I have found that in large, complex organizations that house a great deal of backgrounds and intellectual diversity, designing effective communication channels is one of the most substantial and crucial challenges. This, of course, relates to ensuring that people can communicate when together, but my opinion is that the larger problem, from an organizational standpoint, is when people from different teams, backgrounds or perspectives often do not even end up in the same proverbial “room,” together.
In other words, I view the role of a COMS Interdisciplinary Counselor as designing systematic mechanisms for ensuring that members of ASM who would not normally converse end up doing so. These can be breakout sessions, lightning talks, local retreats, outings, lunches—anything, it almost does not matter. They just need to be inclusive and draw people who do not normally interact together. Potential advances are lost because we get trapped within our teams. I have seen this happen, for example, when highly technical scientists and highly skilled artists or marketing specialists fail to converse enough. The more we can encourage members' interactions with others the better.
2) Galvanizing field-spanning research.
This aim refers to capturing the lightning-in-a-bottle that is interdisciplinary innovation. If a new technology or idea is akin to a “lens” through which you view microbiological truth, ASM can and should be the place where those lenses are ground.
I would make it my aim to assist members in sourcing funds from wherever possible, specifically to encourage outside-of-the-box ideas that could only arise from fields colliding. Additionally, if possible, I would like to work on grant programs and the development of alternate scientific funding paths, as in many cases, the wild, interdisciplinary ideas are the ones that are the hardest for which to find resources. ASM can change this paradigm with the right organizational approach.
3) Driving forward, across microbial boundaries.
Finally, it is not sufficient to think about how we can just bring the current members of ASM together to ideate. We need to be forward looking as an organization, constantly debating and considering questions about the future of our field(s). What are the emerging technologies that ASM can help move forward? What are the most important questions in microbiology today, and how can a multidisciplinary approach tackle them? What fields have yet to interact with microbiology but might be able to help us solve our hardest questions?
If elected to this position, you can rest assured that these will be questions I am pushing forward as we figure out how to achieve ASM’s strategic aims through multidisciplinary thinking.
Professor, UNSW Sydney
As a medical microbiologist I have a keen interest in the dissemination of microbes and development of microbial disease. I have mostly worked in bacteriology, but also in mycology, virology and parasitology.
Antimicrobial resistance, movement of microbes from environments into urban areas, and host-microbe interactions are going to be important areas for future research. Whilst we cannot predict the future, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the continued dissemination of antimicrobial resistance are likely to be key areas for research. The use of microbes for generating new fuel and food sources and for bioremediation are likely to be important areas for industrial microbiology. Research and new developments in these areas will allow ASM to transform and lead the microbial sciences.
The development of undergraduate and postgraduate microbiologists is an area in which I am particularly interested. I want graduates to be able to maximize their potential, including maximizing appropriately remunerated employment.
If I am elected as an interdisciplinary councilor, I will ensure I listen to members of the ASM and transfer your different perspectives inside the ASM and outside to achieve shared common goals.