Main Functions

The ASM Council on Microbial Sciences At-Large members advance ASM and microbial sciences by scanning the environment and advising the Board of Directors (BOD) on scientific and programmatic matters. COMS members bring a key perspective which represents the diversity of microbial sciences and demographics that exist within ASM. The COMS partners with the BOD and staff to shape and lead ASM and microbial sciences into the future.

COMS has several key distinctive functions:


  • Is the “creative mind” of the Society that generates and deliberates on microbial sciences-related ideas, issues, and programs. The COMS has its radar screen set to scan the horizon to detect and anticipate trends in the field.
  • Informs and advises the BOD on scientific opportunities and threats, suggesting policies, actions, and programs that need to be taken or initiated to advance the microbial sciences
  • Works in partnership with the BOD and staff and seeks BOD approval for resources for scientific programmatic activities deemed a priority by the COMS
  • Works in partnership with the BOD and staff to explore feasibility and implementation of programs
  • Identifies and makes recommendations to the BOD for discontinuation of scientific programs deemed no longer essential for the future of microbial sciences
  • Considers petitions to charter Branches and Divisions/Special Interest Groups (SIGs) at the programmatic level, and submits to the BOD for fiduciary review and approval 


At-Large Councilors are elected for a three-year term, renewable once. 

Time Commitment

At-Large members of COMS are required to attend one day-long, in-person meeting, held in conjunction with the ASM Microbe meeting. In addition, working groups and task forces of COMS could meet electronically throughout the year, possibly 3-4 times for a few hours each time. 

Full participation requires reading background material in advance and collegial discussions and active work. This job requires a level of awareness of ASM strategic plan, activities, and responsiveness.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Advise the BOD and support ASM mission
  • Maintain awareness of emerging issues that could impact microbial sciences
  • Oversee and propose scientific and programmatic activities to advance microbial sciences through ASM activities
  • Understand and act within the financial and strategic framework set by the BOD
  • Engage members
  • Advance the vision, mission, and strategic plan of ASM
  • Bring a unique perspective within microbial sciences, keeping in mind your responsibility to act in the best interests of the organization, not of yourself, nor of any particular constituency
  • Build relationships internally and externally
  • Champion ASM and microbial sciences to all constituents and publics
  • Ensure good interaction with other components of the Society
  • Act as an ASM ambassador, encouraging others to get involved in volunteering at ASM
  • Utilize staff expertise
  • Get to know other COMS members and key staff
  • Be an active member of the COMS
  • Prepare for, attend, and actively participate in all COMS meetings
  • Be knowledgeable about the ASM bylaws, policies and procedures, strategic plan, and governance responsibilities of the COMS
  • Abide by the code of conduct and conflict of interest policies
  • Function at a strategic, not tactical or operational, level
  • Be cognizant that the authority rests with the COMS as a collective body, not to any one individual member or group of members
  • Participate in COMS orientation and be knowledgeable about effective governance