In mid-October, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine co-hosted the MoBE 2017 (Microbiology of the Built Environment) Research and Applications Symposium, in Washington, D.C. The meeting brings together researchers, industry professionals, and funders to discuss the state of MoBE research and how to bridge the gap between research and application. Some of the opening remarks to the meeting were given by Paula Olsiewki, Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, who gave a retrospective on the history of MoBE and the process of growing research fields.
A number of BioBE members and collaborators were in attendance and gave presentations, including Jess Green, Co-Director of BioBE, who gave a brief history on the research of BioBE, followed by more detailed narratives on how ventilation and bioaerosols, daylighting, and antimicrobial compounds are driving community structure of the indoor microbiome. Jonathan Eisen, Professor at the University of California, Davis, gave some background on microBEnet and the massive effort to promote microbiology on social media and in education to give our work as much impact as possible. Richard Corsi, Professor at the University of Texas, Austin, who just spent two weeks visiting BioBE, spoke about indoor chemistry and how building design, materials, and the indoor microbiome can all affect the types and concentrations of chemicals indoor- often to the detriment of our health. Kent Duffy, architect at SRG, spoke about how microbial research has impacted architectural design, and how this information can be used to change the way we design spaces.
In addition to presentations on their recent work, a number of meeting participants also sat on several panels to discuss broader issues. For example, “The Myth and Reality of MoBE Manipulation” panel, moderated by Rob Knight, University of California San Diego and featuring Rita Colwell, Jeffrey Siegel, Ilana Brito, and Jessica Green as panelists, discussed the challenges to improving MoBE research and outreach. The panel discussed the need for more basic science and evidence-based applied studies, in order to make more informed decisions on when and how to make interventions.