The interdisciplinary Microbial Sciences Institute (MSI) is the first of its kind. It brings together scientists with different expertise and background to study the inner workings of microbes and their interaction with the environment. Microbes are the dominant form of life on Earth and shape the planet’s ecology more than all other organisms combined. Microorganisms are vital for our health and prosperity, playing key roles as symbionts in the gut microbiome, cleaning our oil spills, and producing many products of medical and industrial value. Microorganisms also provide powerful model systems for the study of basic cellular processes. Life with microbes can also be dangerous, as plant and animal pathogens pose threats to our agriculture and our very existence. Studying microbes and their processes is therefore of enormous fundamental, practical and medical importance. Recent advances in genomic, cell imaging and computational techniques have revolutionized the broad field of microbial sciences, opening the door to exciting new avenues of research. Researchers at MSI leverage these technological advances and develop creative multidisciplinary approaches to address fundamental questions in microbial ecology, evolution, cell physiology, cell biology and pathogenesis.