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.


Ashley  Dungan (Chair)
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:
Twitter: @Symb10sis

 Burak Avcı (Co-Chair)
Postdoctoral scholar

Burak Avcı is a microbial ecologist interested in diversity and evolution of environmental microorganisms. His main research focuses on archaeal cell biology. He is using in situ hybridization and advanced microscopy techniques to reveal the architecture of archaeal cells and to understand the evolution of subcellular complexity. Burak grew up in Turkey and studied Environmental Engineering, Molecular Biology and Genetics at Istanbul Technical University. He then moved to Germany and got his MSc. and PhD degrees at Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology. Afterwards, he worked as a postdoctoral scholar in Aarhus University in Denmark and Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Burak is passionate about science communication and education. He writes articles in popular science magazines and gives public outreach talks to explain the beauty of science to younger generations.
Personal website:
Twitter: @burakawci

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.

 Leslie Daille
Postdoctoral Researcher at Centro GEMA - Universidad Mayor, Santiago, Chile

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the Genomics, Ecology and Environment Center of the Universidad Mayor in Santiago, Chile, since 2022. My main research focus is understanding how microorganisms and their interactions contribute to local and global ecological processes.
I graduated as an Engineer and Master in Biotechnology at the Andrés Bello University, and did a doctorate in Biological Sciences - Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. During this time, I participated in the International GeoBiology Course and the International Course Ecology and Diversity of Marine Microorganisms (ECODIM). Both crucial for my training in microbial ecology and the development of a work vision that seeks to work collaboratively in the study of natural ecosystems.
Since then, I have studied different microbial models of association with surfaces and the ecological interactions that they establish, with implications in the clinical, industrial. and environmental areas. Currently, I am developing my postdoctoral research project studying molecular mechanisms involved in microbial symbiosis, seeking to contribute to the transcriptomic characterization of Antarctic sponges and decipher the regulation of symbiotic interactions in the sponge holobiont.

Ann Gregory
Research scientist at Aera Therapeutics in Boston, Massachusetts and a consultant at Ohio State University, United States

Ann Gregory is a viral ecologist that studies the natural variation in wild viral communities from individuals to species to functional groups. Here overall research goal is to understand how viruses contribute to ecosystem functioning.
Ann grew up in Denver, Colorado in the US and received her PhD at Ohio State University. Afterwards, she was awarded the EMBO long term postdoctoral fellowship to work as a postdoc at VIB-KU Leuven in Belgium. She is currently a research scientist at Aera Therapeutics in Boston, Massachusetts and a consultant in Matthew Sullivan’s lab at Ohio State University.
Ann is passionate about helping foster the next generation of microbial ecologists and increasing awareness and action surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion in the sciences. In November 2020, she helped organize ISME’s #UnityInDiversity Virtual Microbial Ecology Summit. She hopes to continue advocating for early career scientists and EDI as part of ISME’s ECSC.
Twitter: @gregory_annc

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.   

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.

 Ahmed Shibl 
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.

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.

Laetitia Wilkins 
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

Alumni ECSC Committee Members

Jillian Petersen, University of Vienna, Austria
Mohammad Alnajjar, Applied Science Private University, Jordan
Anna Dragos, the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Paulo José Pereira Lima Teixeira, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sarah Preheim, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA
Evodia Setati, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Rochello Soo, Australian Centre for Ecogenomics, University of Queensland, Australia