The Society's scientific affairs shall be conducted through the Council on Microbial Sciences (COMS), which advises the BOD on scientific matters coming before the COMS and from other groups within the Society. 

Functions. The COMS serves six main 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 science
  • Informs and advise s 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 seeks BOD approval for resources for scientific programmatic activities deemed a priority by the COMS
  • Works in partnership with BOD , CEO , 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/SIGs at the programmatic level, and submit s to the BOD for fiduciary review and approval

Six broadly defined characteristics of an exceptional COMS to be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • Is broadly representative of the microbial sciences and the various components of the Society in all its scientific, ethnic, gender, cultural, and geographical components
  • Is composed of elected members who are recognized for their scientific and professional achievements and are leaders in their profession
  • Is visionary regarding the future of microbial sciences and speaks authoritatively
  • Is focused on the long-term horizon of the science, professional practice, and educational affairs
  • Works in partnership with the BOD, CEO, and staff to ensure that ASM allocates attention and resources to anticipate opportunities which will grow and advance the microbial sciences
  • Works in partnership with committees and staff to ensure the feasibility and implementation of proposed programs

Committees of the COMS will be generated and populated by processes identified in policies and procedures established by the COMS itself. The COMS shall adopt, and may amend from time to time, policies and procedures in the scientific interest of the Society, provided that such policies and procedures shall not be inconsistent with the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, or Policy and Procedures Manual of the Society. The COMS shall publish and make generally available to the membership any such policies and procedures in effect at any time. 

For more information about the Council on Microbial Sciences (COMS) please see the Policy and Procedure Manual

Board of Directors


The BOD has the primary fiduciary responsibility for governance and the exercise and assignment of power of authority for the Society. It is the highest governing body of the Society and oversees all other bodies and functions. The BOD’s role includes: 

  • Setting the strategic direction and upholding the objectives of the Society
  • Authorizing policy matters
  • Directing fiduciary, legal , and business decisions
  • Hiring and overseeing the work of the CEO
  • Upholding the strategies and measuring progress through objectives
  • Ensuring that the Society’s property, funds, and affairs are handled in conformity with the Bylaws and within the Articles of Incorporation of the Society under the statutes of the District of Columbia (D.C.)
  • Approving an annual budget

The BOD delegates to the COMS the role of identifying trends in science and suggesting programs that best capture and serve the future of microbial sciences and its workforce and reserves for itself the role of approving them. The BOD delegates to the CEO responsibility for leading and managing operations. The BOD does not operate as an “outside examiner” of the Society; rather, it supports the roles of the COMS, Program Boards/Committees, and CEO in a constructive partnership. The role of the BOD is to govern, while the COMS is responsible for scientific activities and the CEO is responsible for implementation and operations. 

Broadly defined characteristics of an exception al board include, but are not limited to:

  • Works in constructive partnership with the COMS, Program Boards/Committees, and CEO
  • Is mission driven, articulating a compelling vision to ensure congruence between decisions and core values
  • Sets the strategic direction, engaging in discussions and deliberations which affect the Society’s direction in the long run
  • Presents a culture of inquiry, respect , and debate that leads to sound strategic decisions
  • Is independent -minded, putting forward the interests of the Society before anything else
  • Develops a culture of transparency, ensuring that members and all stakeholders have access to appropriate and accurate information regarding finances, operations, and outcomes
  • Adheres to the highest standards of integrity by managing conflicts of interest and establishing appropriate mechanisms of oversight
  • Is a careful steward of the Society ’s resources, by linking bold visions and plans to appropriate financial prudence
  • Is results-oriented, measuring and evaluating the performance of various bodies and programs without managing them directly
  • Operates under best practices in fulfilling its governance duties
  • Evaluates its own actions for continuous learning and improvement
  • Revitalizes itself through planned turnover and inclusiveness based on diversity at all levels (gender, race, geography, sexual orientation, scientific discipline)

In concert with the broadly defined characteristics of an exceptional board, a Director should:

  • Be an individual who is a leader in the field of microbial sciences as viewed by his/her peers and has a stake in microbial sciences;
  • Be an individual who is selected for this role on the basis of his/her skills in governing and has experience and competencies in this arena;
  • Be familiar with ASM bylaws and governance structure, in particular with the roles and responsibilities of key components of the organization, such a s the BOD, COMS, and CEO;
  • Consider the needs of the entire organization, not the specific region or section from which he /she was elected;
  • Understand the decision process and chain of command for both the volunteer leaders and the headquarters staff;
  • Maintain respect for other Directors and their opinions; the BOD should be a place where it is safe to disagree without being disagreeable. Once decisions are made, though, the BOD speaks with one voice, and responsible Directors do not publicly voice their dissent with decisions made by the BOD;
  • Study and become knowledgeable about all subjects on which a decision is needed;
  • Know when and how to present views on policy or issues, knowing that the BOD needs to function as a group that makes decisions and is not simply a discussion forum;
  • Set personal goals as a volunteer leader in support of the Society's mission and strategic plan; and
  • Set personal priorities to ensure attention to all communications and attendance at all BOD meetings.

For more information about the Board of Directors (BOD) please see the Policy and Procedure Manual