President’s Letter

Posted 10/11/13 by . Filed under News and Updates.

Dear Colleagues,
As the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology enters its 65th year, under the leadership of our former Presidents Neal Connors and Tom Jeffries, our Treasurer Jan Westpheling and our Executive Director, Chris Lowe, we find ourselves in the enviable position of a secure financial footing.

A large part of this is due to very successful meetings we have run over the past 3 years. Success of a meeting is dependent upon the quality of the program and speakers, our ability to attract exhibitors, and effective and efficient organization and management of the event. We are indebted to the Program Chairs and Program Committees for the high caliber of talks and posters presented, to Bob Berger for increasing the number of booths purchased by exhibitors (at the 2013 Annual Meeting the booths were completely sold out), and to Chris Lowe and her staff, Nancy Gorell, Jennifer Johnson, Suzi Eller, and Espie Montessa for their superb organization and management of the events, all of whose efforts ensured success.

A strong financial position will allow SIMB to provide increased financial support for its members. With the oversight of the Treasurer and the Audit Committee, the task of finding ways to provide support to the membership will be undertaken by the Planning Committee, chaired by President-Elect Tim Davies.

In 2012 we signed a new 5 year contract with Springer-Verlag to continue publication of the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (JIMB). Our journal continues to be an important source of income for the society. Equally as important, under the leadership of our Editor-in-Chief, Bob Schwartz, and the Senior Editors, the quality of papers published in JIMB has continuously risen, and the reviews, in particular, have contributed significantly to the increase in the Journal’s impact factor. Our goal is to make JIMB the go-to high-quality outlet for articles in the general fields of industrial microbiology or biotechnology. Senior Editor Dick Baltz is putting together a forthcoming issue focused entirely on Microbial Genomics that will be dedicated to Sir David Hopwood to mark the occasion of his 80th birthday. Sir David was honored by the Society at the recent Annual Meeting with an SIMB Fellow Award.

As reported last year, we have been considering establishing with Springer a new digital on-line open access journal (DOAJ). This publication format uses author fees rather than subscriptions to cover publication costs, and the return of revenue to SIMB is based almost entirely on the number of articles that are published. At this writing, the Board has decided that we are not yet ready to establish a DOAJ. The major issue for us is to find a unique niche for DOAJ that will accept high quality papers in our field that will attract papers away from other open access journals, but will not compete with JIMB. Ongoing discussions continue within the Publications Committee, the Board, and with Springer. Though we have not yet committed, it is a foregone conclusion that SIMB will establish a DOAJ in the future and our challenge and efforts will be to ensure that it strengthens the Society.

My first act as President of SIMB was to appoint a Presidential Committee on Diversity, which will be chaired by Susan Bagley, a former President of the Society. This committee will examine and recommend ways to strengthen the role of, and provide opportunities for women and minorities in SIMB. This committee emerged from well attended sessions at the past two annual meetings entitled “Women in Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology”. SIMB is pleased to announce the 3rd Recent Advances in Microbial Control which moves to the west coast, November 9-12, 2014 at the Marriott Union Square, San Francisco. Chairs for this meeting are George Pierce, Georgia State University and Jana Rajan, Dow Microbial Control. Abstracts accepted for invited and poster presentations.

As mentioned above, we have had very successful meetings over the past few years, and the outlook for our meetings this coming year is very promising, as well. The 10th Recent Advances in Fermentation Technology (RAFT-X) will be held November 3-6, 2013 at the Marriott Marco Island Hotel on Marco Island, FL. Tim Davies (our current President-Elect) and Dot Riley are Program Chairs of this meeting. This meeting always attracts a good mix of scientists from academia and industry. RAFT-X will honor Bob Schwartz, who was a founder of the original RAFT meeting in 1995. The 36th annual Symposium on the Biotechnology of Fuels and Chemicals (SBFC) will be held from April 28-May 1, 2014 at the Hilton Clearwater Hotel, Clearwater, FL. It has attracted an average of more than 800 attendees over the past four years. Thomas Klasson of the USDA and Steve Brown of Oak Ridge National Laboratory are co-chairs. A call for abstracts has gone out; cut-off date for abstracts is November 17, 2014. The 2014 SIMB Annual Meeting will be held July 20-24, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis, St. Louis, MO. The 2013 Annual Meeting in San Diego was extremely well attended and well received. Our 2014 Program Chair, Kristala Jones-Prather of MIT, along with her Program Committee, will make the upcoming Annual Meeting memorable. Watch the SIMB website for announcements pertaining to the Annual Meeting.

In addition to our regular cycle of meetings, SIMB is in the early stages of planning a special meeting on Natural Products (NP) to take place in January 2015, most likely in San Diego, CA. This meeting will be co-sponsored by the Korean Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology and the Society for Actinomycetes Japan and will have a truly international organizing committee. There has been a recent surge of activity in NP discovery (spurred by advances in genomics) and novel NP analytics and chemistry, underscored by a recent call for proposals from NIH. Because NPs have always been a core interest area for SIMB, Dick Baltz, Steve Van Lanen, Ben Shen, Scott Baker and I feel that the time is opportune for SIMB to take the lead in bringing attention on NPs in this special meeting. This meeting is intended to complement the already strong NP focus area at our Annual Meeting. We also hope to have the papers presented at the meeting compose a special future issue of JIMB. More details will follow on the website and SIMB News.
The SIMB website ( has become the home of our electronic newsletter, SIMB News, available to our members. Betty Elder, the past editor, has graciously agreed to continue as Editor-in Chief for another 5 years. Suzi Eller manages the website. Please consult the website and SIMB News for news, updates, feature articles, and other topics of interest throughout the year. If you look carefully, you will see the new logo of SIMB gracing the website.

As we enter 2014, I would like to thank our SIMB Past President, Tom Jeffries for his tireless service to the Society, and to welcome Tim Davies as the incoming President-Elect. I also welcome our incoming Directors Debbie Yaver and Ramon Gonzalez, and thank our outgoing Past-President Neal Connors, and outgoing Director Scott Baker for their continuous efforts of our behalf. We also extend our thanks and best wishes to Nancy Gorell who, after more than six years of dedicated to SIMB, has left to pursue other interests.

I look forward to working with the Board, the staff, and with you, our members, to strengthen SIMB and to making this a productive and stimulating year for science in industrial microbiology and biotechnology.

Leonard Katz
SIMB President 2013-2014

One Response to “President’s Letter”

  1. February 15, 2014 at 4:47 pm, Arnold L. Demain said:

    Dear Leonard,
    I enjoyed your letter. Keep up the good work. SIMB looks stronger than ever. I am very pleased that SIMB News is going back to a print format.

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