Gwynne Mhuireach, a Landscape Architecture PhD candidate and member of BioBE, has been awarded a Science To Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship from the U.S. EPA to investigate heterogeneity among the microbial communities found in urban residential neighborhoods. She is particularly interested in the influence that abundance, distribution and diversity of vegetation may have on the urban microbiome, and how vegetation and microbes may interact to affect children’s well-being. The STAR Fellowship provides $42,000 per year of funding over a maximum of three years for outstanding graduate students in environmental studies. Since the program began in 1995, EPA has awarded approximately 1,884 Fellowships.
James Meadow is recently back from Hong Kong, where he was presenting new BioBE research at the 2014 Indoor Air meeting. Indoor microbiology research was very well represented in a series of packed sessions sponsored by the Sloan Foundation. Discussions throughout the meeting seemed to reflect the shift in the changing MoBE field — toward focused experimental approaches to test some of the outstanding questions raised by recent studies, and toward integrating public health into ecological studies. The folks at microbe.net put together a Storify collection of #microbenet tweets during the meeting (link here).
The most recent BioBE paper has received quite a bit of coverage in the press, including some nice spots in scientific press. The study explored the personal microbial connection we have with our personal effects, specifically with smartphones. Here are a few notable stories and podcasts about the paper:
James Meadow is recently back from the American Society for Microbiology meeting in Boston, MA, where he was speaking in a special session called “We Are Note Alone: Microbial Revelations of the Built Environment.” The session was filled with really interesting talks ranging from Legionella in school buses to fungi in restrooms to biofilms in drinking water pipes. The organizers were generous enough to let us post a link to all session videos for free!
The speakers and starting times:
0:00 – Microbes across Human Cultures. Maria Dominguez-Bello;
30:40 – Automobile Windshield Washer Fluid: a Novel Source of Exposure to Legionella. David Schwake
47:53 – Network Analysis of the Indoor Dust Microbiome in CHILD Study Homes in Winnipeg, Manitoba. James Scott
1:02:20 – Can We Use Architectural Design to Influence the Built Environment Microbiome? James Meadow
1:28:26 – Characterization of the Public Restroom Mycobiome Using the Internal Transcribed Spacer. Jennifer Fouquier
1:43:51 – Characterization of Drinking Water Distribution System Biofilm Communities Using Next-Generation Illumina Sequencing. Kimi Gomez-Smith
2:02:22 – Toward Real-Time Bioaerosol Characterization: Developments for in situ Optical Recognition of Airborne Microbes. Mark Hernandez
Our new paper on the bacterial connection between our hands and our mobile phones is out this week in PeerJ.
Also, James Meadow did an interview with PeerJ about the study and it’s implications as well as his thoughts about the PeerJ publishing experience. Worth a read if you’re thinking about publishing in open-access soon.
A round-up of recent media coverage is in the works…
Last week several members of the BioBE Center visited Boulder, CO for the 3rd annual Microbiology of the Built Environment Conference hosted by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. James Meadow presented our recent work on building-scale microbial patterns, the phone-hand connection, and the human microbial cloud. Adam Altrichter presented a poster (see it here) on our ongoing work with the Light Box experiments that Kyla Martichuski put together for a recent symposium at the U of O. Gwynne Mhuireach also presented a poster with an update on the analyses from her study looking at the bacteria in air from parks vs parking lots throughout Eugene. Check out the Storify put together from tweets during the conference to see what folks were talking about all week.
It’s time to look deeper into the overarching patterns that scientists around the world are beginning to see in the indoor microbiome. BioBE members Ashley Bateman and James Meadow are headed to Durham, NC this week with fellow built environment scientists Rachel Adams and Holly Bik to work on a combined analysis of all high-throughput microbial datasets produced in built environments to date. The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NECSent) is hosting the group to bring together 4 ecologists with scientific programming chops to undertake this huge task. This project is a followup to last-year’s Indoor Evolution meeting at NESCent, funded by the Alfred P Sloan foundation.
BioBE and microBEnet are partnering to bring a built environment microbiology workshop to the Society of Building Science Educators annual retreat taking place at Biosphere 2 in June. The theme of this year’s retreat is Adaptation, which will focus on “adjustment in natural or human systems [the built environment and infrastructure] in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects, to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities.” (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).
Image © JOHN DE DIOS/SCRYER MEDIA SERVICES 2011
NOVA Next, a PBS website, recently published “Manipulating the Unseen Microbial Ecosystem – the Future of Hospitals?“, mentioning BioBE’s Providence study.
Our team has been conducting additional experiments in the Climate Chamber in the Portland ESBL lab this week and will continue into next. We hope to have some of the data prepped for our presentation at the Microbiology of the Built Environment Conference in Boulder, CO at the beginning of June. Stay tuned!