MIT Integrative Microbiology Initiative (The MIMI)

Microbiologist in the field holding a flask full of liquidThe Microbiology PhD program is supported by The MIT Integrative Microbiology Initiative (The MIMI), a program funded by the Simons Foundation and led by Prof. Otto X. Cordero. The goal of this program is to strengthen microbiology research across the Institute by creating bridges between microbiologists in different departments, emphasizing the synergy between microbiology and environmental sciences.

Never have microbial sciences been so critical. Microbes control the elemental cycles of the planet and are key for many areas, including agriculture, bioenergy, and the biodegradation of novel materials. As we continue to learn more about microbes and their interactions with each other and the environment, we can conceive a future in which we use large-scale genomic datasets to model the rates of biogeochemical transformations on a global scale, design ecological systems or predict evolutionary adaptations in a changing environment — all through the lens of microbes. The MIMI aims to catalyze this vision by annually funding between 3–4 first year Microbiology PhD students interested in understanding and engineering environmental microbiomes.

Aside from supporting the cohort of first year microbiology students, The MIMI support the “social infrastructure” of the program — a seminar series organized by students that features established and emerging leaders in the field. The initiative also incorporates retreats designed to increase the interaction and collaboration among environmental scientists across the Institute.

Founding members of The MIMI include Institute Professor Sallie “Penny” Chisholm and Associate Professor Tami Lieberman, both CEE affiliates; as well as several members of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences: Professor Tanja Bosak, Professor Michael Follows, Associate Professor Gregory Fournier, and Associate Professor Andrew Babbin.

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