Proposed Changes to ASM Bylaws

March 26, 2024

Upon recommendation from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Governance Committee, and after months of robust analyses and discussions, the ASM Board of Directors (Board) has unanimously approved the proposed revisions to the ASM bylaws, recommending that they be put before the full membership for a vote.

ASM has a long and proud tradition as a leading life sciences society, and these changes are intended to carry the organization into the future, enabling ASM to meet the demands of an evolving and globally fast-changing scientific environment. The Board sees these revised bylaws as an opportunity to further advance ASM’s commitment to its growing membership in an Inclusive Diversity, with Equity, Access and Accountability (IDEAA) manner. The revised nomination and election process envisioned in the bylaws will help ensure that ASM leadership reflects the full breadth of the microbial sciences and is representative of those engaged in the field.

How to Vote

On Thursday, March 28, full ASM members in good standing will receive a message from the polling company “Intelliscan” with a personalized voting link. You can vote on whether you approve the revised bylaws. Voting will remain open until April 26 at 12 a.m. ET.

What are the Changes?

Below you will find the current and proposed bylaws in their entirety, as well as an outline of key takeaways about some of the structures the board intends to put into place under the new bylaws. This reflects years of input from ASM members and volunteer leaders, as well as careful analysis of the environment in which ASM operates. The Board also recognizes that, as the changes are implemented, there may need to be additional refinement. These bylaws will allow such flexibility without requiring additional bylaws revisions, unless there are fundamental changes to the overall direction or ASM’s structure.

Key Takeaways

ASM Will Establish 3 Scientific Units:

  1. ASM Health.​​​​​​
  2. ASM Mechanism Discovery.
  3. ASM Environmental and Applied Microbiology.

ASM's Scientific Units
ASM's Scientific Units
Source: American Society for Microbiology

Each Scientific Unit Will Have 3 Core Components:

  1. A volunteer chair: to be selected using a process like the way selections are made for an editor in chief for 1 of ASM’s journals.
  2. A dedicated staff scientific director: to partner with volunteer leaders in guiding overall direction of the unit.
  3. A Scientific Advisory Council (SAC): as established in Article VI of the proposed bylaws, and elected by ASM membership at large. This represents evolution of the Council on Microbial Sciences (COMS) under the current bylaws. Like COMS, SACs will be tasked with considering the future of the microbial sciences for each of the scientific units. Additionally, the valuable work that has taken place under COMS will serve information and foundation for the scientific units.

Establish a Branch Advisory Council (BAC)

  • Under the current structure, branches are represented on COMS, though the purpose of COMS was never to address the needs of the branches. For that reason, the Board intends to create a BAC, chaired by the ASM President and populated with councilors from each branch and ASM leadership, as a forum for addressing branch-related topics.
  • The current Branch Organization Subcommittee (under the ASM Membership Committee) will be consulted as details for the BAC are being worked out.

Move Away From Formal Division Structure

This move is intended to create a more integrated and forward-looking scientific structure, leaning on the scientific units, while preserving some key elements of ASM Divisions.

  • To the extent that specific divisions are engaged in ongoing activities deemed of value, these activities will continue with the support of a given ASM scientific unit.
  • ASM will provide new support for informal member-initiated Special Interest Groups (SIGs) within the scientific units.

Interim Provisions

  • ASM Health will be the first scientific unit to be stood up in 2024. ASM Mechanism Discovery and ASM Environmental and Applied Microbiology will be established in 2025. The Board will appoint an interim SAC for each of the units. Elections for each of the SACs will begin in the 2025 election cycle.
  • Continued engagement of COMS Communities. Each community, as it works on identifying the future of the science within specific areas, will do so with an eye toward providing input to the scientific units as they are being stood up. It is anticipated that many current COMS members will serve as members of the SACs.
  • The BAC will be put into place in 2025.​​