Tagged: Meetings

Lake Arrowhead Microbial Genomics

Lake Arrowhead

Postdoc Roxana Hickey presented “Microbial interactions between humans and the built environment” at the 21st Lake Arrowhead Microbial Genomics meeting held in Lake Arrowhead, California on September 18-22, 2016 (slide deck below). The biannual conference hosted more than 100 scientists and featured a variety of speakers (58% of whom were female!) highlighting research on the human microbiome, disease pathogenesis, population and evolutionary genomics, and cutting-edge omics techniques. Jonathan Eisen (UC Davis), a long-time attendee and promoter of the meeting, chaired a session on the built environment microbiome (Storify here) in which Dr. Hickey presented past and present BioBE research. Other talks in the session included microbial community assembly in cheese manufacturing (Rachel Dutton, UC San Diego), a citizen science study of the highly polluted Gowanus Canal in New York City (Elizabeth Hénaff, Mason lab @ Weill Cornell Medicine), community engagement through microbiome research aboard the International Space Station (David Coil, Eisen lab @ UC Davis), and evolution of biofilm formation in response to rising marine temperature (Alyssa Kent, Adam Martiny lab @ UC Irvine).

 

David Coil summarized each day of talks at the meeting on the microBEnet blog (day 1, 2, 3 and 4), and Jonathan Eisen created several Storify recaps of #LAGM16 tweets (here, here and here). The meeting was the most Twitter-active I (Roxana Hickey) have attended and contributed to yet, which facilitated active discussions with members both at and away from the meeting.


Here are my main three main takeaways from the meeting:

  1. Metagenomics (and other ‘omic’ techniques) is gaining strength and popularity for a variety of applications. These include genome reconstruction across whole communities of microorganisms, strain-level diversity and population genomics, functional analyses, and development of targeted therapeutics and rational probiotics. There were very few amplicon-based studies at this meeting (I noticed a similar trend at the International Symposium on Microbial Ecology #ISME16 last month in Montreal). In addition, the tools used to analyze omics data are plentiful and sophisticated. I was especially impressed by work featured from the labs of Eric Alm (MIT), Jill Banfield (UC Berkeley), Kostas Konstantinidis (Georgia Tech), and Adam Phillippy (NIH).
  2. Many are beating the drum for more reference genomes and cultured isolates. Human-associated bacteria are fairly well-represented in the databases, thanks in large part to the Human Microbiome Project, but for most other environments we have relatively low representation of the resident microbes. This dearth of reference genomes limits our ability to make inferences about the function and ecology of the vast majority of microbes on earth, as was highlighted in a recent update to the tree of life (Hug et al. Nature 2016). More and more scientists are shifting some of their efforts toward cultivation and sequencing of isolates from diverse environments.
  3. Citizen science and community outreach are increasingly popular and wildly successful approaches to microbiome research. I was really excited to learn about the BKBioreactor Project on the Gowanus Canal (which made use of a community biohacker lab in Brooklyn), Project MERCCURI (which relied on crowdsourcing efforts to send microbes to space), and FijiCOMP (a really cool study looking at microbial transmission among members of a community in Fiji). All of these projects promote open access to data and publications. It got me very excited and thinking about ways to incorporate more public outreach in my own research.

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the stunning fluorescence microscopy images of dental plaque presented by Jessica Mark Welch (Marine Biological Laboratory) illustrating genus-specific bacterial assemblages in the finest of detail (recently published in PNAS). These images are not only beautiful, but they also provide direct insights into physical interactions between populations of bacteria and inform hypotheses about their possible ecological roles in assembly and succession. Would love to see this technique employed in other microbial habitats!

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.

AAAS Meeting on Microbiomes of the Built Environment

Last week a AAAS meeting on the Microbiomes of the Built Environment was held to bring together leaders in the field to discuss existing knowledge and future directions. Jessica Green participated in the panel video above and the whole meeting is available online.

You can also check out the Storify of tweets during the meeting created by Jonathan Eisen.

AAAR Annual Conference in Portland

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Ann Womack will be presenting on the BioBE Center’s recently published paper, “Indoor airborne bacterial communities are influenced by ventilation, occupancy, and outdoor air source”, at the American Association for Aerosol Research Annual Conference just up the road in lovely Portland, OR. Ann’s talk will be part of a special symposium on bioaerosols and is one of several presentations focusing on bioaerosols in the built environment.

Evolution of the Indoor Biome

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The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) held an exciting meeting focused on investigating evolution of organisms in the built environment, and especially in homes. Three BioBE researchers were in attendance (Ashley Bateman, Gwynne Mhuireach, and James Meadow), and the list of participants included experts in microbial genomics, architecture, building science, ethics, ecology, human evolution, sociology, and invertebrate zoology.

BioBE Research Highlighted at Gordon Research Conference

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James Meadow just returned from the recent Applied and Environmental Microbiology Gordon Research Conference, held at Mount Holyoke College. He was presenting some brand new exciting results from our recent human microbial cloud sampling project. The talk was part of a Built Environment session, which was led by Kerry Kinney, from University of Texas, and included work presented by Jack Gilbert, from the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. The session was enthusiastically received and we got lots of great feedback from fellow conference attendees.

The American Institute of Architects National Convention and Design Exposition

G. Z. Brown just returned from the 2013 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Denver, Colorado, where thousands of design professionals gathered to attend workshops, seminars, and talks to discuss leadership for architecture. In a talk titled “Leadership for Affordable, VERY High-Performance Buildings”, G. Z. Brown highlighted the BioBE Center and presented our research from the hospital, business school, and the Climate Chamber experiments through the lens of energy reduction strategies.

2nd Annual Sloan Microbiology of the Built Environment Meeting

The 2nd Microbiology of the Built Environment meeting funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation was held last week in Boulder, CO. Several members of the BioBE Center attended and contributed to the active Twitter coverage during the conference — check out the meeting Storify put together by Jonathan Eisen for highlights and commentary during the talks.

Health in Buildings Roundtable (HiBR)

The webcast on “Making the Human Health Connection: Healthy Buildings, Healthy People and Healthy Communities” on April 23rd was stimulating and informative. Highlights included:

Judith Heerwagen’s comment that perhaps buildings should be designed more like modern zoos, which value the inclusion of critical elements of the natural environment in order to keep their occupants not only alive, but also psychologically healthy.

Kate Turpin’s discussion of technological innovations in design and construction that are currently being implemented to improve indoor environmental quality (IEQ) – including consideration of  indoor air quality, acoustics, biophilia and access to daylight.

Matt Trowbridge’s observations that specificity is a requirement in order for designers to make decisions based on the results of scientific health research.

We are excited to reach out to this community and find opportunities for new collaborations!