What sorts of bacteria did we find in a university classroom? from BioBE Center on Vimeo.
Funny you should ask! A new BioBE study is out today in the journal Microbiome. We sampled the bacteria from surfaces all over a university classroom and found that the bacteria on those surfaces can tell you quite a bit about how we interact with those surfaces. We also made a quick film that discusses our results.
Recently on Nautilus Jessica Green wrote a short piece along side a fun interactive graphic that takes a look at what shapes the microbiomes of buildings.
Here’s a list of all the media coverage on the recent release of the Lillis Dust paper as compiled by James Meadow. There are some really interesting write-ups that tie together some ideas from previous work out of the BioBE Center and related labs.
Articles dispersing the UOregon press release or the above original articles:
Fast Company write up on the PLoS Lillis Dust paper.
Ashley Bateman was very excited to be selected as a recipient of the 2014 William R. Sistrom Memorial Scholarship, which carries an award of $1300. The William R. Sistrom Memorial Scholarship was created through the generosity of Dorothy Sistrom. The scholarship was established to recognize biology graduate students who exhibit academic excellence in working with microbiology or a closely related field. She will be able to use the $1300 to pay for a portion of the sequencing costs of the dissertation work she is doing in collaboration with the BioBe center.
The Sustainable Cities Initiative at the University of Oregon brought in a special speaker Monday night for a lecture titled, “Rethinking Cities: a holistic approach to sustainability and urban design.”
Mr. Stellan Fryxell is a partner at Tengbom Architects based in Stockholm, Sweden. This architecture firm has done notable work all over Scandinavia, the UK, Russia, and China, and Mr. Fryxell himself has had meetings with both Al Gore and the Chinese President to convey his exciting ideas about how to design and create sustainable cities for the future. Mr. Fryxell knows, like we do at the BioBE center, that cities are major contributors to climate issues that we are facing. Approximately 200,000 new people move into cities every single day, and cities themselves are growing geographically faster than their populations. Infrastructure investments, although currently decreasing overall, are critical to help us work better with the climate and plan more resource efficient cities. Sweden has shown that GNP can still grow with decreasing CO2 emissions, despite the significant financial investment upfront. Mr. Fryxell proposes an “urban toolkit” that will help to achieve sustainable cities – just building green buildings with passive heating and cooling and recyclable materials is not enough. Traffic and transportation must be via rapid transit or with vehicles that utilize alternative and renewable fuel sources. The biodiversity of the landscape must be taken into account, along with the re-use of water and sewage and recycling and incineration of waste for energy production. 80% of all fuel is renewable in Sweden, with co-generation of heat during fuel generation. Even sewage water is viewed as a resource for heat and biomass. Mixing air into the tap water can reduce water consumption up to 25%, further reducing energy costs. Information and communication technology (“smart” cities) will be helpful, although not critical to success of sustainability. Smart devices can certainly help it to be “easy to act correctly”, an important component of successful sustainability. What is critical, according to Mr. Fryxell, are integrated planning and design strategies in place to help encourage local engagement and diverse perspectives.
I hope that these planning teams will include advocates for designing their buildings and outdoor spaces that encourage both macro and microbial biodiversity that we think can increase the health and wellness of inhabitants.
We’ve just published a new paper exploring the bacterial communities hanging out in the dust of a big university building, Lillis Hall. It’s the same building that we used when exploring the effects of ventilation and occupancy on airborne bacteria (published in Indoor Air). This time, we were interested in the long-term accumulation (about a decade) of indoor dust, and how microbes in dust are influenced by architecture and occupant use. We found that what you do in a room, how many people there are in a room, and how well connected rooms are, all make a big difference. We were also surprised to find that offices located right beside one another vary considerably in their dust microbial communities just based on the source of their ventilation (from a window or from a mechanical system).
One of these days, we’ll know enough about the microbes in our buildings to manage them for a healthier indoor environment. This paper helps us understand the architectural choices that we can use in the future to manage our microbes.
The paper is open access and available at PLOS ONE.
The American Museum of Natural History created a short documentary film that features a bit of the BioBE Center’s recent work to characterize the human microbial cloud.
The Built Environment Microbiome from BioBE Center on Vimeo.
The BioBE Center partnered with XVIVO to produce an animation visualizing microbes in the built environment a while back and it’s now published on Vimeo. We’re releasing this under the a CC-BY-SA license for use.
Scientific American has a short piece about the BioBE Center’s upcoming study to characterize the human microbial cloud. More to come!