About MSI

The Microbial Sciences Initiative (MSI) is an interdisciplinary organization aimed at a comprehensive understanding of the richest biological reservoir of the planet:

the microbial world.

Broadly, MSI aims to act as an intellectual epicenter for microbiology. By providing an organizational focal point for microbial sciences, with strong links to existing departments and schools at Harvard University, MSI encourages broad interactions among researchers and also connects work on microbial sciences to ongoing work in related areas including molecular biology, biogeochemistry, oceanography, and environmental engineering.

Our goals include:

  • Nurturing intellectual community among microbiology researchers at Harvard University and throughout New England
  • Igniting collaborations between Boston-area academic institutions and industry partners
  • Sharing microbiology with a variety of science-curious public audiences
  • Amplifying the voices of scientists and science artists
  • Supporting research trainees with intellectual, monetary, and community resources

To these ends, we sponsor the following events and programs at Harvard University:

  • Weekly chalk talks, monthly research seminars, and annual symposia - all of which are free and open to the public
  • Short courses and trainings in advanced microbial techniques and associated equipment
  • Graduate student and postdoc consortia
  • Summer fellowships for Harvard undergraduate students
  • Research, training, and outreach partnerships with industry leaders 

Microbes are ubiquitous and have an impact on every aspect of our existence. Yet, their intrinsic invisibility has meant that they have remained largely unknown to the general public, and their effects and enormous potential often unrecognized even by science. A growing appreciation of microbial diversity, spurred in large part by the genomics revolution, has propelled the microbial sciences into an exciting new era of investigation, one that we at MSI are are excited to catalyze. 

Bacterial Motions by Azul Pinochet-BarrosImage: Bacterial Motions, by Azul Pinochet-Barros, Ph.D. Image description: "A day in the life of a molecular microbiology lab. Bacterial cultures everywhere! All with different strains and genetic constructs. All grown in different media, to various optical densities. All for different purposes, from protein purification to zone of inhibition assays and transformations. All moving in unison, together. A single, unifying motion to provide us with a better understanding of nature. A motion that pushes the boundaries of the known and unknown of unseen entities. Microbes. Beautiful."