Design Champs: Daylight and Microbes

This week, BioBE held the third session of our “Design Champions” webinar series, which we have been developing over the last few months as a means of actively communicating our work with industry professionals.  Design Champs brings together a small number of industry participants, to better facilitate a targeted discussion on topics relevant to building design, energy, and health in the built environment.  Design Champs is a great way for us to summarize the current body of research on a particular topic, present our work, and brainstorm with industry professionals about what next steps we need to take to fill knowledge gaps.  This week, Jeff Kline, Ashkaan Fahimipour, Mark Fretz (our new Outreach Director), and myself (Sue Ishaq) connected online with a handful of architects from Oregon, Washington, and California to talk about “Daylight and Microbes”.

Mark presented a historical perspective on the use of light in architecture, and how factors like the price of glass shape the way buildings were and are designed, and even impact human health.

I added an overview of selected research into the effect that light has on bacteria, and how early results narrowed the focus of work into using light, particularly ultraviolet light, as a bactericidal treatment.  Yet, research has also found that other wavelengths affect bacteria in beneficial and detrimental ways, that other factors (like the presence of oxygen) can influence how dramatic that effect is, and how complex communities of microorganisms react differently than monocultures.

Next, Jeff presented a slide deck to illustrate the technical aspects of the work that BioBE has been doing to research light and microbes, including the design and creation of “lightboxes”.  This set up the last section for Ashkaan, who presented some of the results from our project studying different lighting regimes on the bacterial community in dust.  The manuscript from this project is currently in review, but we’ll be presenting on it more thoroughly once published.

BioBE is still developing the format for Design Champs, but we hope to host them every few months.  If you’d like to learn more, please email Jeff ( or myself (!

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