The 2019 ISMET board

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 in diverse areas such as bioremediation, wastewater treatment, biotechnological productions, biosensing and many more. The most well known examples of these technologies are Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs), which 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. 

In other applications, not the generation of electrical power is the focus goal but the link microbial electrochemical activity with target chemical productions, for example with Microbial Electrolysis Cells or Microbial Electrosynthesis Cells. In some cases, like bioremediation, the connection to an electrochemical system enables to drive new metabolic reactions, which are of technological or environmental interest.

A number of different mechanisms allow bacteria to respire with charged electrodes but also to consume electrons from an electrode and include: direct via outer-membrane or extracellular proteins, and mediator-based via endogenous or exogenous mediators. Thus, MET research stretches from fundamental to very applied research and from deciphering and engineering microbial physiology via developing and testing interphase materials (such as electrodes and membranes) to designing and engineering applied MET systems.

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 associate 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 sulfide oxidation, ammonium recovery, capacitive bio-anodes for wastewater treatment, and the conversion of electricity and CO2 into methane. Last year, ter Heijne was awarded the prestigious Dutch Vidi grant, in which she studies electron storage in electro-active biofilms, and how electron storage mechanisms can be influenced.

Regionally associated members


Michaela TerAvest (ISMET secretary)

Dr. Michaela TerAvest is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Michigan State University. She received her PhD in 2014 from Cornell University (with Dr. Lars Angenent) and was a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (with Dr. Caroline Ajo-Franklin) until moving to MSU in 2015. Her research group engineers bacteria for biofuel and bioproduct generation, with a special focus on microbial electrochemical technologies involving Shewanella oneidensis. Dr. TerAvest has been recognized for both research and teaching accomplishments through a variety of awards, including a Beckman Young Investigator Award and MSU’s all-university Teacher-Scholar award. 

Jeffrey Gralnick (ISMET treasurer)

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.

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. 


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).

Sebastià Puig

Dr. Sebastià Puig is Associate Professor Serra Húnter at the University of Girona (Spain). His research is focused on environmental and white biotechnology in water and air streams. His idea is to give a second chance to contaminated water and recalcitrant carbon dioxide streams using the METs platform. His scientific production includes 86 publications in international peer-reviewed journals (h-index 33), > 100 congress publications, 14 book chapters and three European patents on microbial electrochemical technologies. He is currently the principal investigator of two EU projects (BioRECO2VER and ELECTRA), one Swedish (ELECTROSYMBIOSIS), two Spanish projects (COOMET and WAFRA) and one industrial EU project as subcontracted (SCALIBUR). Sebastià is the chairman of the EU-ISMET (https://euismet2021.eu/) next September 2021.


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.

Sunil A. Patil

Dr. Sunil A. Patil is an Assistant Professor at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali (IISER Mohali). After fruitful stays as the DAAD scholar (2008-2010), Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow (2011-2015), and senior Alexander von Humboldt fellow (2016-2017) in TU Braunschweig, Ghent University, and Lund University, he started his research group in IISER Mohali in 2017. His current research activities focus on the electromicrobiology of extreme environments, electricity-driven bioproduction from industrial CO2, and integrated biological and bioelectrochemical processes for wastewater management at the point sources. He is on the editorial board of Bioresource Technology Reports since its launch in 2017.

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.


Awards committee

Chair: Hong Liu (NA), Deputy chair: Deepak Pant (EU)
Members: vacancy for 2 members

Newsletter committee

Chair: Elizabeth Heidrich (EU), Deputy chair: Matt Yates (NA)
Members: Belén Barroeta (EU, Publishing coordinator)

Membership committee

Chair: Deepak Pant (EU), Deputy chair: Ricardo Louro (EU)
Members: Sunil A. Patil (EU), Jason Ren (NA), Igor Vassilev (EU) and Ludovic Jourdin (EU)

Conference committee

Chair: Korneel Rabaey (EU)
Members: Annemiek ter Heijne (EU), Kun Guo (AP), Bernardino Virdis (AP), Jeff Gralnick (NA), Bruce Logan (NA)

Website committee

Chair: Miriam Rosenbaum (EU), Deputy chair: Akihiro Okamoto (AP)
Members: Falk Harnisch (EU), Bernardino Virdis (AP)
Administrator: Tim Lacoere
Twitter: Deepak Pant (EU), Belén Barroeta (EU)

ISMET Ambassadors


Ambassador: Ola Gomaa
Vice Ambassador:  Rabeay Y. A. Hassan

Latin America

Ambassador: Angela Cabezas
Vice Ambassador: Ignacio T. Vargas