History of SIMB

Shortly after World War II, workers of varying scientific backgrounds who were involved in aspects of applied microbiology became unhappy because there was no place where they could present their views and their research papers. During the summer and autumn of 1949, Dr. Walter Ezekiel, Bureau of Ordinance, Department of the Navy, Washington, DC, wrote to a number of individuals suggesting formation of a new Society for Industrial Microbiology (SIM). He arranged with Dr. Raymond Taylor, Associate Administrative Secretary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to schedule and advertise a meeting of interested persons on December 29, 1949, during the AAAS meeting in New York. On this date over 250 people met in the ballroom of the Hotel McAlpin in New York City. There they decided to form a society in affiliation with the newly formed American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), with Dr. Charles Thom as Acting Chairman.

Dr. Thom appointed an organization committee, which prepared a program and wrote a constitution for the new society in preparation for the first annual meeting held with AIBS at Ohio State University in September 1950. Here Dr. Thom was elected the first president, and Dr. Charles Porter, Purdue University, the secretary treasurer. In 1951 the new SIM met with AIBS at the University of Minnesota and Dr. Thom was elected president for a second term. In 1952 the meeting was held at Cornell University, and in 1953 at the University of Wisconsin. Here, in addition to the scientific sessions, the first social hour was instituted, and it has become a fixture at all subsequent annual meetings.

For many years the annual SIM meetings were held along with AIBS on university campuses: 1954, Gainesville, FL; 1955, East Lansing, MI; 1957, Stanford University; 1958, Indiana University; and 1959, Pennsylvania State University. At the 1959 meeting, for the first time, all SIM meeting attendees stayed together at the Beta House. From 1960 to 1966 attendees stayed in either a university fraternity or sorority house at: Oklahoma State, Purdue, Oregon State, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Colorado, the University of Illinois, and the University of Maryland.

At the 1959 meeting, following enthusiastic and persuasive efforts of Lloyd Hermann and Walter Bejuki, it was decided to sponsor the initial Conference of Microbial Agents, a mammoth undertaking. It was a one-time event for SIM, with ASM taking it over the following year (ICAAC).
Through the efforts of Dr. Brinton Miller (President, 1963-64), the first volume of Developments in Industrial Microbiology (DIM) was published in 1960. This peer-reviewed publication contained the papers from the annual SIM meeting each year. Twenty-six years later, in 1986, the concept for a new technical publication for SIM was presented by President C. Herb Ward (1983-1984). The first issue of Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology (JIMB) was published in March 1986 as the Journal of Industrial Microbiology (JIM). The first editor-in-chief was George E. Pierce. Since then, our journal has grown from a modest bimonthly, publishing 300 pages in 1986, to a monthly, publishing more than 900 pages in 1992. The name, JIM, was used continuously through 1996 when the Board of Directors adopted the new name, the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (JIMB).

In 1991 Developments in Industrial Microbiology Series (DIM Series) replaced, combined and expanded the scope of DIM and Topics in Industrial Microbiology, the latter designed to present proceedings of our special conferences. If warranted, DIM Series published proceedings of selected symposia from SIM annual meeting and special conferences.

SIM also publishes SIM News, a bimonthly news magazine which contains reports of Society activities, news of significance in the field of applied microbiology, reviews, meeting notices and other news of interest.

In 1967 SIM held its first independent annual meeting at the University of Western Ontario. Subsequent separate meetings were held in 1970 at the University of Rhode Island, in 1973 at Northwestern University, and in 1974 (silver anniversary of the Society) at Memphis State University. The first independent meeting not held at a university was in 1983 at the Hyatt, Sarasota, FL. After meeting at Colorado State the next year, all subsequent SIM annual meetings have been at commercial locations. Our annual meetings, noted for their strong technical content and friendly, informal environment consist of pre-meeting workshops, symposia, roundtables, poster presentations, exhibits, award presentations, and social events.

In 1987, reaffirming its commitment to microbial biotechnologists, the organization of a special-topic conference series was approved. These conferences attracted about 200 participants, ran for 2-3 days and usually resulted in production of a monograph (DIM Series). Initiated by Dr. George Somkuti (President, 1985-86), the first event in the series was the International Conference on the Biotechnology of Microbial Products: Novel Pharmacological and Agrobiological Activities (BMP), held March 13-16, 1988, in San Diego, CA. This was followed by the Comprehensive Conference on Listeria monocytogenes, held October 2-5, 1988, in Rohnert Park, CA, bringing together experts in microbiological food safety.

Since then, SIM has sponsored or co-sponsored special conferences on a regular basis. These have included: DECHEMA (Frankfurt, Germany, 1989); five BMP conferences; Asian/Pacific Biotech Meeting (Seoul, Korea, 1990); Biocatalysis for the 90s (Orlando, FL, 1991); Second International Marine Biotech Conference (Baltimore, MD, 1991); Fifth International Conference on Computer Applications to Fermentation Technology (Keystone, CO, 1992); International Conference on the Application of Predictive Microbiology and Computer Modeling Techniques to the Food Industry (Tampa, FL, 1992); First International Conference on Antibiotic Resistance: Impact on Discovery (Denver, CO, 1994); Conferences on Recent Advances in Fermentation Technology (biannually since San Diego, CA, 1995) and the Sixth International Conference on the Genetics and Molecular Biology of Industrial Microorganisms (GMBIM) (Bloomington, IN, 1996).
Acknowledging the importance of peer recognition, SIM sponsors several monetary and honorary awards. The Porter Award for Distinguished Service to the Society was established in 1960 and the Charles Thom Award, the highest honor of the Society recognizing outstanding contributions to the field of industrial microbiology, was instituted in 1966.

In 1984 Fellowship status for distinguished SIM members was approved. In 1985 nine individuals were elected as the first SIM fellows, all previous Thom awardees. The Selman A. Waksman Outstanding Teaching Award was established in 1989 and the first recipient was Dr. Douglas E. Eveleigh. The Panlabs Lecture Award, sponsored by Panlabs, Inc., was established in 1991. It was presented to individuals of world renown in the field of microbiology. Each lecturer presents an address at the annual meeting. In 1992, SIM established the Young Investigator Award, sponsored by Schering-Plough Research Institute. The first award was given at the 1993 Annual Meeting. At the annual meeting, SIM also presents student awards for the best oral presentation and the best poster presentations in each of five annual meeting tracks: biocatalysis, environmental, fermentation and cell culture, metabolic engineering, and natural products.
The business of SIM is conducted by the board of directors (elected by the membership and consisting of a president, president-elect, secretary, treasurer, past-president and four directors); the executive secretary/executive director and the business office staff; and committees. Our headquarters is located in Fairfax, VA.

The committee structure has been organized under the guidance of the board of directors. There are presently fifteen standing committees, as follows: Awards and Honors; Corporate Membership; Education; Election; Exhibits; Finance; Local Arrangements; Local Sections; Nominations; Policy and Public Responsibility; Program; Publications; Publicity; Regular Membership; and Special Conferences.

In addition, six local sections conduct sessions in industrial microbiology, present timely speakers and in some instances, hold regular monthly meetings. Local sections have been established in: Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland/DC, New England, New Jersey, Northern California, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puget Sound, Southern California, Southern Great Lakes and Wisconsin.

SIM membership currently includes approximately 1000 individual members and 60 corporate members.