The ECSC shall consist of not more than 10 members in total, allowing for continental and regional representation ideally with at least one representative from each continent. Furthermore careful considerations will be made to ensure gender balance. The term of service for all members will be four years. Every two years approximately half the committee will be replaced to allow for knowledge and skills sharing as well as support for the in-coming committee. The positions of chair and co-chair will be rotated every two years, coinciding with the election of new members. Every two years, the committee will choose a new chair and co-chair by a process of nomination and voting if there is more than one nominee or volunteer for each position. Chairing and co-chairing should rotate among regions. This procedure should be led by the outgoing chair. Membership to the ECSC is through applications, invited in a call.

The nomination process of a new member:
  • The current term of service began in June/July 2019, and will end in June/July 2023.
  • All members of the inaugural committee began their term of service in June/July 2019.
  • To move to a staggered system of member replacement, 4-5 new members will start in June/July 2021, the committee will then consist of 13-14 members for two years, and when all inaugural members end their term of service in 2023, only enough new members will be selected to bring the total number of committee members to max 10.


Laetitia Wilkins (chair)
Postdoc at Max Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany

I am a Maria Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany. My host is Prof. Nicole Dubilier in the Department of Symbiosis. In my project #Pansymbiosis, I am studying how the rise of the Isthmus of Panamá affected the evolution and ecology of lucinid clams and their microbial partners. More information on my research and my collaborators in Panamá can be found here. I am passionate about diversity and critical thinking in academia and strive to make it more family-friendly. I am a co-founder of the Berkeley Spouses, Partners & Parents Association. I am also an active science communicator. You can read some of my blog posts on The Molecular Ecologist, my research and my collaborators in Panamá can be found here

  Jillian Petersen
Assistant Professor at University of Vienna, Austria

I have been an Assistant Professor at the University of Vienna since 2015. I work at the Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science. My main research focus is beneficial interactions between marine invertebrate animals and the symbiotic bacteria they can’t live without. I was born in Brisbane, Australia. After doing my Bachelors degree at the University of Queensland, I moved to the Max Planck Institute in Bremen, Germany, where I got my PhD with Nicole Dubilier in 2009. After postdoctoral studies at the Max Planck Institute, I moved to Vienna to establish a research group with a start-up grant from the Vienna Science and Technology Fund. My research spans host-microbe interactions from the deep sea to ecologically and economically important coastal habitats worldwide. My main goal is to understand how animals and microbes develop and evolve together, and how they come together to form lifelong partnerships amidst the immense diversity of other organisms in nature.

Evodia Setati
Senior Researcher at Stellenbosch University, South Africa

I am a chief researcher in grape and wine microbial ecology. I did my PhD on heterologous expression of plant cell wall degrading enzymes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae at Stellenbosch University, then a postdoc on alkane metabolism in Yarrowia lipolytica at Free State University both in South Africa. When I started with my own research in 2003, I focused on the microbial diversity of hypersaline environments and worked on that for a few years. In 2010 my research changed to the vineyard and wine microbiome with focus is on the impact of different farming practices on soil and grape microbiomes, the interactions between different yeast species during fermentation as well as possible application of different microorganisms in wine fermentation management. I do undergraduate teaching in grape and wine sciences and postgraduate supervision in wine biotechnology.

Yinzhao Wang
Assistant Professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

I'm an Assistant Professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. Currently my main research focus is methane and multi-carbon alkanes-metabolizing microorganisms with emphasis on their geological and ecological functions. I was born in an ancient city, Xianyang, China, and set my dream as a biologist when seven years old. Then I went to Northwest University, China, for Bachelor in Biological Sciences. I got my Ph.D. for geomicrobiology with Prof. Yongxin Pan from Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, working on magnetotactic bacteria. I also took half a year working with Prof. Wayne L. Nicholson in University of Florida for Space Microbiology. For postdoctoral study, I spent three years in Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) with Prof. Fengping Wang on alkane-oxidizing archaea. In 2020, I got a position in SJTU to continue my research, trying to reveal the interactions, evolutionary history, and community assembly processes of methane related microorganisms.

Sarah Preheim
Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA

I'm an Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering. I study microorganisms that contribute to poor water quality, such as fecal contamination, harmful algal blooms and low oxygen dead-zones. My lab applies a combination of approaches, such as field observations, laboratory experiments, bioinformatics and quantitative modeling, to ultimately predict how the microbial community contributing to these problems will respond to engineered or environmental changes. I got my bachelor's degree in Biology from Carnegie Mellon University, and a PhD from a joint program with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010. I continued on at MIT as a postdoc working with Eric Alm, and started my current position in 2015.

Laura Lehtovirta-Morley
Group leader at University of East Anglia, UK

I am a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow and have been at the University of East Anglia since 2017. Prior to starting my independent research group, I was a PhD student and a postdoc at the University of Aberdeen and also spent some time working at the Oregon State University and the University of Alberta. My research focus is on terrestrial nitrogen cycling, especially on ammonia oxidising archaea. I am interested in the interplay of physiology and ecology of ammonia oxidising microorganisms and want to understand the mechanisms underpinning the adaptation of these microbes to the environment.  

Rochelle Soo
Postdoc at Australian Centre for Ecogenomics, University of Queensland, Australia

Currently I’m a Research Fellow in the Australian Centre for Ecogenomics (ACE) at the University of Queensland (UQ), Brisbane, Australia. My main research focus is on non-photosynthetic Cyanobacteria (where they are found, how they function and their evolution), however I also work on marsupial microbiomes (koala, wombat, possum and kangaroo). I completed my Bachelor degrees at Victoria University of Wellington and became interested in environmental microbiology after taking a summer course looking at microbes in hot springs. I then undertook a Masters at The University of Waikato looking at microbial communities in hot soils on Mt Erebus, Antarctica. After my Masters I moved to Australia and worked as a lab technician for 4 years at the Australian Institutes of Marine Science (AIMS) looking at sponge microbial communities on the Great Barrier Reef and lobster disease. I then moved to Brisbane to start a PhD at ACE working on the non-photosynthetic Cyanobacteria and finished in 2015. I stayed on at ACE as a Postdoc and in 2018 I was awarded an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award. 

Paulo José Pereira Lima Teixeira
Assistant Professor at University of Sao Paulo, Brazil

I am an Assistant Professor at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Piracicaba, Brazil. My research focuses on plant-microbe interactions. More specifically, I am interested in understanding how microbes (pathogens or not) interact with and manipulate the plant immune system. I studied biology at the University of Campinas (Unicamp), where I also did my PhD research in the field of Microbial Genetics and Molecular Biology under the supervision of Prof. Gonçalo Pereira. Up to this point of my career, I was mostly interested in microorganisms that cause diseases in crops. After graduating in 2013, I moved to the United States to work with Prof. Jeff Dangl at the University of North Carolina (UNC). There, I became fascinated by the plant microbiome and by its potential to promote plant health. We investigated how bacteria that form the root microbiome interact with the plant immune system to colonize the host and assemble communities. I moved back to Brazil in June 2019 to start my own group at USP.

Mohammad Alnajjar
Assistant Professor at Applied Science Private University, Jordan

Currently, I work as assistant professor of Microbiology in the Faculty of Pharmacy at the Applied Science University in Jordan. I am focusing in my current research on effect of drugs and food supplements on gut microbiota, as well as, on investigating potential antimicrobial compounds extracted from the hypersaline microbial mats (still at the preliminary stage). I got my Master degree and my PhD from Max-Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in 2010. My PhD work was about the light energy budget in hypersaline microbial mat ecosystems. The work was done in the Microsensor group under the supervision of Lubos Polerecky and Dirk de Beer. I stayed in the same group for 1.5 years as a postdoc, and then moved to KAUST in Saudi for a postdoc position in the Red Sea Research Center. In KAUST, I was working on the giant bacteria (Epulopiscium) that live in the gut of the coral reef fish (work has not been published yet). Then I got the current position in 2016, when I moved to Jordan.

 Ahmed Shibl (co-chair)
Researcher at the Public Health Research Center, New York University, Abu Dhabi

My main project explores the link between microbiomes, population genetics and prevalent diseases in the region. Prior to that, I was a postdoc in the Marine Microbial Ecology Lab with Prof. Shady Amin. My overarching research interest lies in host-microbe associations, microbiome modulation and interkingdom interactions that may harbor solutions for current environmental or societal problems. I utilize the explanatory power of combined multi-omics data and quantitative tools to understand the metabolic functions of microbial communities and their influence on host physiology. In early 2020, I was appointed as Young Ambassador to the UAE by the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) to advance the research opportunities of scientists and students interested in fundamental and applied microbiology. I was also appointed as Champion within the National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC) to advocate for a sustainable ecosystem for global microbiome researchers to effectively find, access, interpret, and reuse microbiome data.

Ashley  Dungan 
Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne, Australia

I am currently a research fellow at The University of Melbourne working under Profs. Madeleine van Oppen and Linda Blackall. My research interests are in the functional roles of bacteria in symbiosis with their coral hosts and harnessing these functions in microbiome engineering approaches. Microbiome engineering has been proposed as a strategy to facilitate adaptation to changing environmental conditions by enhancing the coral holobiont with the metabolic capabilities of the introduced bacteria and is one way that scientists can assist the evolution of corals.

I am an advocate for equity in science for women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, people of color, indigenous community members, minorities, people with disabilities, and anyone else who has ever felt that they do not belong. Outside of science, I am a volunteer for Seeing Eye Dogs, Vision Australia and care for two gorgeous girls, Kelly and Ocean. I am also an avid CrossFitter and specialize in lifting heavy weights fast. I hope to be a role model for young women to see that strength is never a weakness and that gender can never define what you are capable of.

Personal website:
Lab website:

Emil Ruff
Assistant Scientist at Marine Biological Laboratory Woods Hole, USA

Emil Ruff is an Assistant Scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts since 2018. His research focuses on ecosystem functions, microbial community assembly and population dynamics from an interactions-centric perspective. To disentangle microbial food webs, Emil mainly studies ecosystems with reduced complexity, such as natural or laboratory enrichment cultures, microbial blooms or extreme habitats. Emil grew up in Southern Germany and received a Master’s degree in biology from the University of Stuttgart, Germany. He has earned his PhD from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and the University of Bremen, where he stayed for his first PostDoc. Before joining the MBL faculty he worked at the University of Calgary on a second PostDoc project funded by an AITF/Eyes High Postdoctoral Fellowship. He has just received a 2021 Simons Foundation Early Career Investigator In Marine Microbial Ecology and Evolution Award to study mutualistic interactions between anoxygenic phototrophs and sulfur-reducing bacteria.

Adoukè Nadège Agbodjato
Postdoctoral research at North West University (NWU),South Africa

Dr. Adoukè Nadège Agbodjato, of Beninese nationality (Benin), holds a PhD in biological sciences, option: Microbiology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the University of Abomey-Calavi (UAC) in Benin (West Africa). Currently, she is pursuing her postdoctoral research at the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences of the North West University (NWU) in South Africa. Her scientific objective is to participate in the promotion of sustainable agriculture respectful of health and the environment by conducting research on the interactions between plants, soils and microorganisms and also to research bioproducts such as chitosan, a derivative of crustacean exoskeletons. Her development goal is to produce long-term biofertilizers based on soil microorganisms or biostimulants in order to improve agricultural production while respecting health and the environment and to reduce the abusive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides causing huge problems on public health and the environment.As a researcher, her interests are related to soil microbiology, microbial ecology, sustainable agriculture, food security, fisheries waste recovery, public health and the environment. Her work has already allowed her to author and co-author 27 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, a practical manual and a data sheet.

Anna Dragos
Assistant Professor at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

I have recently joined Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, as an Assistant Professor. In my team, we are studying control of bacteria by phages, focusing on beneficial Bacilli and, so called phage regulatory switches. Originally, I come from Poland, I graduated from Biotechnology at the University of Wroclaw, and my first ‘real job’ was at the Phage Therapy Unit, Institute for Immunology and Experimental Therapy (Polish Academy of Sciences). Passion for science and adventure, broth me to a PhD at the University of Ljubljana, where I studied inter-bacterial communication and where I became really hooked on bacterial ecology and evolution. During my postdoc, first as Alexander von Humboldt fellow (FSU, Jena, Germany), next as H.C. Oersted fellow (DTU, Denmark) I studied on experimental evolution in bacterial biofilms. In one of the side projects we observed that phages completely changed the course of events in an evolution experiment – this was a turning point in my career. I would like to understand what is the relationship between bacteria and phage regulatory switches: which behaviors do these phages control, what are the molecular mechanisms behind and what drives the evolution of host control by RS phage.