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BioBE undergrads share their research at UO symposium

Undergraduate students Andy Siemens and Kyla Martichuski were selected to give oral presentations at the Sixth Annual University of Oregon Undergraduate Symposium. The Symposium took place on Friday, May 20, 2016 and featured 186 research and creative projects, including 80 oral presentations. Both Andy and Kyla will have a chance to share their hard work later this week when they defend their honors theses.

Recent activities at the BioBE Center

April was a busy month at the BioBE Center! Read more about our recent activities below:

BioBE Center Director Jessica Green presented “Building Wellness: Creating Healthier Homes, Hospitals, and Offices with Microbiology” at the Heinz Distinguished Lecture Series hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering (April 5). She also presented at the Genomes Environments Traits (GET) Conference hosted at Harvard Medical School in Boston (April 25-27), contributing to Session II: Microbiomes, Health and the Built Environment along with Rob Knight (UCSD), Erika von Mutius (University of Munich) and Jack Gilbert (University of Chicago).

Senior Research Associate Jeff Kline presented “The Impact of Weatherization on Microbial Ecology and Human Health” with Scot Davidson of Enhabit at the 2016 ACI National Home Performance Conference & Trade Show in Austin, Texas (April 5). The following week, Kline and ORI research scientist Deb Johnson-Shelton presented a poster at the AIA Design and Health Research Consortium 2016 Convening held in Alexandria, Virginia (April 12-13). This project is a collaboration between the BioBE Center, Oregon Research Institute and Enhabit, and is funded by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

ESBL Director Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg and PhD student Gwynne Mhuireach presented “The impacts of design on energy and health in the built environment”  to 50 7th-grade students at Ohara Elementary School in Eugene (April 12). The event included a 60-minute workshop with presentations and hands-on exercises.

Postdoc Roxana Hickey attended the Sloan Microbiology of the Built Environment Data Analysis Workshop in San Diego (April 3-5). The workshop was led by researchers from University of California San Diego and the Marine Biological Laboratory and featured training in QIIME, QIITA and VAMPS for analysis and visualization of built environment data. Hickey also attended the Northwest Biology Instructors Organization (NWBIO) Conference hosted by the University of Oregon and Lane Community College in Eugene (April 15-17).

Postdoc Erica Hartmann attended OA Strategic Leadership Conference at the University of Oregon (April 18). This one-day event featured sessions and networking opportunities designed to enhance professional development in the areas of management and strategic leadership.

Hartmann and Hickey attended the Sloan Early Career Workshop in Chicago (April 26-29). The workshop was hosted by researchers at the University of Chicago and featured a series of seminars by leading experts in microbial ecology, building science and architecture, followed by a team grant proposal writing activity. Check out tweets from the event under hashtag #mobeECW16.

The Green lab and BioBE Center hosted visiting graduate student Anders Nygaard from Oslo and Akershus University College in Norway. Anders met with Center members to learn about facilitating research between biologists, architects and engineers.

ACS Celebrating Chemistry highlights indoor environments, profiles BioBE researcher

The American Chemical Society elected to celebrate “The Great Indoors” in their annual child-friendly earth day publication. In addition to discussing issues related to indoor air and water quality, this issue contains a profile of BioBE researcher Erica Hartmann, talking about how she got interested in science. You can also find experiments kids (and adults) can do at home to learn more about our indoor environment!

Making microbiology of the built environment relevant to design

G.Z. Brown, Jeff Kline, Gwynne Mhuireach, Dale Northcutt and Jason Stenson argue in their recent commentary in Microbiome Journal that scientists can make the field of microbiology of the built environment more relevant and applicable to real-world design problems by addressing health and sustainability in tandem, and that practice-based research represents a promising approach to advancing knowledge of the indoor microbiome and translating it to architectural practice.

BioBE meets BuildWell

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Erica Hartmann presented BioBE research at the 2016 BuildWell conference in San Francisco. Held at the beautiful Golden Gate Club, BuildWell brings together architects, builders, financial experts, manufacturers, and researchers to discuss how to make buildings healthier for occupants and for the planet. In addition to BioBE research, topics included green (presented by John Warner of the Warner Babcock Institute) and biomimicy (presented by Janine Benyus of the Biomimicry Institute). All of the presentations painted a bright picture of the future of buildings, where materials are bio-inspired, multifunctional, and net-zero or net-negative carbon.

Gwynne Mhuireach to teach a design-oriented microbiome course this winter

Researchers studying the microbiology of the built environment have discovered linkages between architectural/urban design and microbial communities. Gwynne will introduce design students (architecture, landscape architecture, planning, etc.) to this field of research and elicit their responses regarding application of the scientific findings to design practice. Students will be asked to post questions to microBEnet later in the term – stay tuned!

Andy Siemens received a UROP mini grant award

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Andy is one of the recipients of the University of Oregon Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) mini grant award. This award will provide Andy with $1,000 to support his ongoing research. Andy’s research project focused on the effects of different light wavelengths on dust microbiome under the guidance of Jessica Green and Erica Hartmann. Congratulations Andy!

 

New publication in the open-access journal Biogeosciences

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A new paper authored by BioBE Center Director Jessica Green and former Center members Ann (Womack) Klein and Brendan Bohannan was recently published in the open-access journal Biogeosciences. The paper examined fungal communities in the atmosphere over the Amazon rainforest canopy using DNA- and RNA- based sequencing to examine the total and metabolically active communities, respectively. To our knowledge, this is the first study to sequence RNA from outdoor air samples. Collecting and isolating RNA from air samples required the development of novel methods which open the door for future studies of metabolically active microorganisms in the built environment.

BioBE women join the OpEd Project


Photo credit: Chelsea Carmona, the OpEd Project

BioBE members Erica Hartmann and Clarisse Betancourt attended the OpEd Project in San Francisco this weekend. The program, geared toward increasing the voice of women and minorities in public discourse and especially oped pieces, also contains tips and tricks that are invaluable for communicating with the public and for persuasive (read: grant) writing. After two days of intensive training and an invigorating exchange of ideas, Erica and Clarisse are excited to write their first oped pieces.

For more information about the project, and to find a seminar near you, check out their website.

Erica and Clarisse were sponsored to attend this event by a generous grant from the Harnisch Foundation.

Call for a Unified Microbiome Initiative

BioBE Center Director Jessica Green co-authored the recently published proposal for a Unified Microbiome Initiative. The goal is “to discover and advance tools to understand and harness the capabilities of Earth’s microbial ecosystems.” Read more about it–and hear what postdoc Erica Hartmann has to say–in the Around the O article here.

Read the paper here: Alivisatos et al. 2015