The 2021 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: Falk Harnisch (outside regional representation)

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.

Regionally associated members


Jeffrey Gralnick (ISMET President-elect)

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.

Annette Rowe

Annette Rowe is an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati. She received her Phd from Cornell University in Microbiology and Environmental Engineering. She trained as a postdoc at the University of Southern California working with Ken Nealson and Moh El-Naggar. At UC, her research group focuses on the mechanism of microbe-mineral and microbe electrode interactions in diverse microbial systems, with a focus on mineral oxidizing and cathodic processes and the goal applying this understanding to better facilitate CO2 capture and conversion in both applied and environmental systems.

Michaela TerAvest (ISMET treasurer)

Dr. Michaela TerAvest is an Associate 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. 


Marianna Villano

Dr. Marianna Villano is Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Department of Chemistry of Sapienza University of Rome (Italy). She earned her PhD in Industrial Chemical Processes in 2011, from the same University. Her journey in the world of Microbial Electrochemical Technologies (MET) started during the PhD, when she also spent six months at the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering of the Cornell University (Ithaca, NY, USA) in the laboratory of Professor L.T. Angenent. Her main research activity focuses on the treatment and simultaneous valorization of waste and wastewater by means of biological processes, primarily exploiting mixed microbial cultures. These include MET for biogas upgrading, nitrogen removal and recovery, control of the products spectrum during the acidogenic fermentation (i.e., electro-fermentation), as well as the electrosynthesis of valuable products from the reduction of carbon dioxide.

Catarina M. Paquete (ISMET Secretary)

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

Dr. Akihiro Okamoto is Group Leader at National institute for materials Science and Professor at Hokkaido University. He 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 from April 2016. He has done works for the fundamental electrochemistry on extracellular electron transfer process for microbial fuel cell and microbial iron corrosion, and for applications of pathogen electrochemical sensor.

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.

Jung Rae Kim

Dr. Jung Rae KIM is Professor of School of Chemical Engineering at the Pusan National University (PNU), Korea. He received his BS and MS degree in Chemical Engineering at Pusan National University, Korea, and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering at Pennsylvania State University, USA in 2006 with the thesis of microbial fuel cell. Then he moved into Sustainable Environment Research Centre (SERC), Faculty of Advanced Technology in University of South Wales, United Kingdom. He conducted UK National EPSRC Supergen Biological fuel cell project as senior research fellow in 2006-2012. In September 2012, He joined the School of Chemical Engineering as a faculty member, and opened Bioenergy and Bioprocess Engineering Lab at PNU. His main research aim is to develop sustainable bioelectrochmical system for bioenergy and useful chemical production. Recently, he has carried out several national and industrial research projects of valorization of C1 gases (CO2/CO/CH4), and e-biorefinery for platform chemical productions using bioelectrochemical concept as well as microbial fuel cell. He has published 100 SCI(E) research papers with citing more than 7000 (h-index: 39). 


First Board members will be elected in 2023

Latin America

First Board members will be elected in 2023


Awards committee

Chair: Jeffrey Gralnick (NA)
Members are selected ad hoc by the committee chair

Public Engagement and outreach committee

Chair: Catarina Paquete (EU), Deputy chair: Ola Gomaa (A)
Members: Belén Barroeta (EU, Social media officer), Elizabeth Heidrich (EU), Mirella di Lorenzo (EU, outreach officer), Ola Gomaa (A) and Ignacio Vargas (LA)
Newsletter Editor: Catarina Paquete (EU), Deputy Newsletter Editor: Belén Barroeta (EU)

Membership committee

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

Conference committee

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