About

The International Society for Microbial Electrochemistry and Technology (ISMET) was founded on September 15, 2011 at Spats Cafe and Speakeasy Restaurant, State College, PA, following a workshop at Penn State organized by Jay Regan. The founding fathers are shown in the image to the left/right.

What are Microbial Electrochemical Technologies?

Microbial electrochemical technologies (METs) link a microbial metabolism to an electrochemical system.

METs have a variety of different configurations and potential applications, some of which are outlined below:

1. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) generate electrical current by harnessing bacterial metabolism. Electrode-respiring bacteria, capable of donating electrons to negatively poised electrodes, drive electrons from a useable substrate (often proposed as wastewater) through a circuit that ultimately reduces a terminal electron acceptor. This process is very similar to the natural respiration metabolism bacteria use to produce energy. Produced bacterial current can be harnessed for work if a load is added to the circuit.  A number of different mechanisms allow bacteria to respire with charged electrodes and include: direct via outer-membrane or extracellular proteins, and mediator-based via endogenous or exogenous mediators. The study of these mechanisms, along with optimization and application of MFC technology is of primary focus in current research.

 

Two types of MFCs used in laboratories for process testing.

 

2. Microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) utilize electrode-respiring bacteria to produce a chemical product, such as hydrogen, methane, ethanol, or hydrogen peroxide. While similar in design to MFCs, MECs employ a potentiostat or power supply to overcome thermodynamic limitations by applying an exogenous potential to the system. While real-world application of MFCs for electricity production is improbable due to low fossil fuel prices, the higher value of MEC products (e.g., methane, hydrogen, hydrogen peroxide) makes MECs a more promising technology. However, there are still many barriers to application; many of biological, chemical, and physical constraints that limit MFC scale-up also limit MEC development. Additionally, the collection of gaseous products at the cathode (e.g., hydrogen, methane) presents additional challenges. While promising, MEC technologies are still in the laboratory phase, and to be feasible for practical application their overall efficiencies and long-term reliability must be proven.

3. MFC and MEC technology are currently the two major proposed routes for industrial application of microbial electrochemical technologies, however, there are many other possible applications which are more specialized. These include biosensing, biocomputing, and basic research on microbial metabolism. Microbial electrochemical technologies (MET) are useful in biosensing because microbial electron transfer allows direct interface between biological systems and electrical circuits, resulting in quick response times and integration with traditional computing systems. Use of MET for biocomputing has the same advantages and additionally can integrate the complex regulatory machinery of bacterial cells into the "circuitry" of the biocomputer. In the realm of basic metabolic research, the microbe-electrode interface is useful because it allows direct, real-time measurement of the respiratory activity of a population of cells, a feature which cannot be found in any other experimental system. The area of MET research is broad and constantly changing, with new ideas and applications arising every year.

Registered ISMET users can access a large collection of scientific information, conference publications and contacts within the ISMET community. 

ISMET lives through the engagement of its community members and is steered by the ISMET Board and organized by ISMET Committees. Every year one third of the ISMET Board members roll of and new community members are elected to serve on the Board.

Board composition

President: Annemiek ter Heijne (outside regional representation)

Annemiek ter Heijne is an assistant professor at the Sub-department of Environmental Technology at Wageningen University. In her current position, she combines teaching in the field of renewable energy from a thermodynamic perspective with research on microbial electrochemical technologies. Her current projects focus on metal recovery, ammonium recovery, capacitive bio-anodes for wastewater treatment, and the conversion of electricity and CO 2 into methane. Two years ago, ter Heijne was awarded the prestigious Dutch VENI grant, in which she studies the use of capacitive granules as bioanodes for electricity generation from wastewater.

Regionally associated members

Americas

Jeffrey Gralnick

Dr. Jeffrey Gralnick is a Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and currently the Director of the Microbial and Plant Genome Institute. He earned his PhD in 2003 in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and was a postdoc at Caltech before starting his own lab at Minnesota in 2005. His research group focuses on modern and classic genetic approaches to understand and engineer electro-active bacteria. He has mentored nearly 70 undergraduates, 13 M.S. / Ph.D. students and 9 postdoctoral researchers. His former students have found successful careers in academia, industry and government. He is an editor for Microbiology (U.K.) and a member of the editorial advisory board for Applied & Environmental Microbiology.

Hong Liu

Hong Liu is a Professor of Biological and Ecological Engineering (BEE) at Oregon State University (OSU). Her main research efforts are in developing microbial electrochemical systems for bioenergy production and wastewater treatment. She is the author and co-author of 7 book chapters and over 60 peer reviewed journal publications with over 8000 citations and an H-index of 35. She was named as a Highly Cited Researcher and listed in The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds in 2014, 2015, 2016 by Thomson Reuters. She also is a recipient of a NSF CAREER award in 2010.

Jason Ren

Zhiyong (Jason) Ren is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University. Prior to joining Princeton he was on faculty at University of Colorado for 10 years. Jason has been working in microbial electrochemistry since 2004 with topics including MFC/MEC, MDC/MCDC, energy harvesting, and recently bioelectrochemical soil remediation and nutrient recovery. Currently his lab focuses on understanding the microbial-material interface with the goal of exploring and improving resource recovery and wastewater treatment. Jason has published more than 110 peer-reviewed journal articles with an H index 36, and he co-founded a start-up company with student to hopefully commercialize microbial electrochemical technologies. 

Europe

Falk Harnisch (President-elect)

Dr. Falk Harnisch is a Group leader at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ and Privatdozent (~Associated Professor) at the Leipzig University, both Germany. He is active in the field since more than a decade and has published > 100 papers at a h-index of 38 (google scholar). His journey in MET started at the University of Greifswald as student of biochemistry with Uwe Schröder, with whom he went to Braunschweig after obtaining his PhD with extinction in 2009. After a fruitful and enjoyable detour as Visiting Academic (2011) to the University of Queensland (Australia) he started his own group in Leipzig in 2012 where he obtained is habilitation in 2016. Falk received numerous awards and scholarships most recently the UFZ Research Award. Starting from the fundamentals of abiotic and microbial electrocatalysis his work recently focused on the ecology & thermodynamics of electroactives as well as the integration of electroorganic & microbial synthesis for creating electrobiorefineries. 

Catarina M. Paquete

Dr. Catarina M. Paquete is an Assistant Researcher at the Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica from Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Portugal. She started her career in Microbial Electrochemical Technologies (MET) in 2006, when she joined Prof. Ricardo O. Louro laboratory. Her main interests are understanding electron transfer processes performed by electroactive organisms. Toward this, her work focuses on the characterization of multiheme cytochromes from different electroactive organisms, in particular in the unraveling of the electron transfer processes performed by these proteins. This fundamental knowledge allowed her to set-up her research group and start exploring different approaches to enhance extracellular electron transfer processes. Dr. Paquete is the author of 33 peer reviewed research articles and 2 book chapters in MET field, and she was also one of the organizers of the international meeting of ISMET that occurred in Portugal in 2017 (ISMET6).

Deepak Pant

Deepak Pant is a Senior Scientist at the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Belgium. His research focuses on the design and optimization of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) for energy recovery from wastewater and microbial electrosynthesis (MES) for production of value-added chemicals through electrochemically driven bio-processes. Current projects on BES research deal with development and upscaling of gas diffusion electrodes (GDEs) as air cathodes in MFCs and gas diffusion biocathode for improved CO2 supply in MES. He has been involved in the activities of ISMET community for a long time and is a member of the newsletter team and manages the twitter handle of ISMET society.

Asia-Pacific

Akihiro Okamoto

Akihiro Okamoto was conferred a Ph.D. of engineering at the department of applied chemistry, the University of Tokyo, in the laboratory of electrochemistry supervised by Prof. Kazuhito Hashimoto. Following an year of post doctoral career in the University of Southern California under the supervision of Prof. Kenneth Nealson, and three years of assistant professorship in the University of Tokyo, he joined to National Institute for Material Science as Senior Researcher from April 2016, and currently became Principle Researcher and Independent Scientist. He has done works for the fundamental electrochemistry on extracellular electron transfer process, and industrial applications of microbial electrochemical sensor and microbial iron corrosion.

Taeho Lee

Taeho Lee is a professor at the Dept. of Environmental Engineering in Pusan National University, Korea. He was chairperson and hosted the 3rd AP-ISMET in Busan (2016). He has been interested in developing a new wastewater treatment process based on microbial electrochemical technologies over the past decade.

Tian Zhang

Dr. Tian Zhang is a Chair Professor in the School of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Life Science at Wuhan University of Technology in China since 2016. She is an awardee of the Chinese “Thousand Talents Program for Distinguished Young Scholars”. From 2013 to 2017, she worked as a Senior Researcher and Group leader at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability, Technical University of Denmark. She was a Post-doctoral Research Associate in the Microbiology department of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA from 2008 to 2013. Her main research area is bioelectrochemical technologies including microbial electrosynthesis, electrode-assisted bioremediation, microbial fuel cells, etc.

Committees

Awards committee

Chair:Frédéric Barriere, Co-chair: Hong Liu

Members: Stefano Freguia

Newsletter committee

Chair: César Torres

Members: Belén Barroeta (Publishing coordinator), Falk Harnisch, Sudeep Popat; Xochitl Dominguez Benetton, Abraham Esteve-Núñez,  Enrico Marsili, Stefano Freguia, David Strik, Xin Wang, Deepak Pant and Federico Aulenta

Membership committee

Chair: Deepak Pant

Members: Stefano Freguia (AP), Inseop Chang (AP), Yujie Feng (AP), Srikanth Mutnuri (AP), Venkata Mohan (AP), Xin Wang (AP), Ricardo Louro (EU), Deepak Pant (EU), Caitlyn Butler (NA), Jason Ren (NA), and Jason He (NA).

Nominations committee

Chair: Sarah Glaven

Members: Annemiek ter Heijne

Conference committee

Chair: Korneel Rabaey

Members: Korneel Rabaey, Lars Angenent, Bruce Logan, Yujie Feng and Ashley Franks

Website committee

Chair: Miriam Rosenbaum

Members: Falk Harnisch, Sèbastia Puig, Zhen (Jason) He, Bernardino Virdis

Administrator: Tim Lacoere

Twitter: Deepak Pant, Belén Barroeta

Alcalá Tree committee

Chair: Abraham Esteve-Nunez

Members: Future conference organizers