American Academy of Microbiology Climate Change & Microbes Scientific Portfolio

Nov. 12, 2021

Person holding a seedling
The American Academy of Microbiology (Academy), the honorific leadership group and scientific think tank at ASM, works to recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public. Currently, climate change is an eminent global threat to human existance. Many researchers in and outside of the microbial sciences have raised concerns and called for definitive actions urgently. To address this momentous challenge, the Academy created a 5-year scientific portfolio to focus on promoting the understanding of the relationship between microbes and climate change and building a scientific framework to inform climate change policies and market innovations.

Understanding Relationships of Climate Change & Microbes

Over the next 5 years, the Academy will conduct a series of activities to broaden the scientific understanding about climate change and microbes. As a first step, the Academy released the report Microbes and Climate Change - Science, People & Impacts to provide a foundation for current knowledge while highlighting knowledge gaps leading to recommendations for research priorities, policy considerations and societal recommendations to combat microbial injustice.

The relationship between climate change and microbes constantly evolves and is not often examined in the context of human well-being. This portfolio aims to understand the trio’s dynamic by bringing together experts in different fields to discuss and build a scientific framework to support the academic, policy and business communities to take actions in various areas to tackle climate change.

The 5 main scientific focuses for the scientific portfolio on climate change are the following:

  • Highlight microbes' role in planetary carbon atmospheric flows and their utilization in bioprocesses to reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Explore interventions to reduce exposure to harmful microbes and maintain ecosystems that limit exposure to zoonotic diseases.
  • Understand the role of microbial communities in environmentally sustainable agricultural systems and soil health.
  • Study the science and technology behind the use of microbes as greener solutions, such as biofuels and bioenergy, and address the scientific barriers to help accelerate the transfer of the technology in market solutions.
  • Identify infrastructural resources and gaps in data collection and curation and support collaborations in data sharing to improve understanding, prediction, and management.

The scientific portfolio also aims to urge researchers worldwide and in diverse disciplines to respond and develop solutions for the climate crisis that threatens our environment and human lives in a timely manner. A scientific advisory task force composed of reserachers from diverse disciplines provides oversight and guidance on the scientific direction of the scientific portfolio. The Academy invities all those interested in contributing to scientific portfolio activities to contact

Support this crucial work by donating to the American Academy of Microbiology scientific portfolio. When donating please select “American Academy of Microbiology” in the drop down menu on the donation form.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a scientific portfolio?
A scientific portfolio is a comprehensive list of the current and future activities that a scientific entity is conducting to pursue a set goal. The Academy's scientific portfolio helps the Academy stay focus on a single scientific area to make meaningful differences in the field of microbial sciences.
Why should microbiologists study climate change? 
Microbes are responsible for most elemental flows in the planet, including carbon and nitrogen, and have significant impacts for climate change. By actively engaging in the scientific activities and dialogs about climate change, the Academy will contribute to shape the scientific direction of microbial environmental research and discovery, inform climate-related policies, funding and regulations and connect key stakeholders to accelerate the translation of science into practical solutions. As a result, this effort will demonstrate the role of microbiologists as important scientific stakeholders that can contribute to climate change solutions.
What types of activites will be part of the scientific portfolio?
The following are potential activities for the scientific portfolio:
  • Host a series of colloquia with experts in diverse areas of expertise to study these issues in more detail to gain more in-depth knowledge on the scientific topics
  • Conduct scientific meetings to inform the scientific community about these topics and mobilize the scientific interest in this area
  • Publish reports, strategy, guidance, etc. to support scientific objectives
  • Support the translation of scientific insights into policy recommendations
  • Establish communities of practice to support continual sharing and collaborations
  • Support the transfer of new scientific findings and technologies into practical and commercialized solutions
Who can contribute to the scientific portfolio activities?
Anyone interesting in expanding the current understanding around climate change and microorganisms and working to find sustainable solutions can participate. This includes academic researchers, foundations, policy organizations and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. You do not need to be a member of ASM or a fellow of the Academy. The Academy invities all those interested in contributing to scientific portfolio activities to contact
What is the timeline for this scientific portfolio?
The Academy will focus on the climate change & microbe scientific portfolio for 5 years (2022-2026).