Category: Meetings

Meta-Analysis of Indoor Biome Datasets – A New Collaboration!

This past September, Sloan-funded biologists Ashley Bateman, James Meadow, Rachel Adams, and Holly Bik met at UC-Berkeley to begin collaboration on an exciting new project!

The past few years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of microbiological studies undertaken in the indoor environment. It seems that these studies have arrived at the same general conclusions regarding microbial richness and diversity, but they also suggest that different processes are structuring microbiological communities differently depending on many variables. We began a meta-analysis of the publicly-available indoor biome data sets to compile and assess the state of current knowledge on the microbiology of the built environment. We hope to use the online QIIME database to analyze 16s and fungal clone data sets from multiple sequencing platforms. This kind of meta-analysis will hopefully help us to answer some of the following questions:

1. Are there consistent patterns for the processes (geography, building type, etc) structuring microbial communities indoors?

2. Can we identify consistent source habitats for different habitats in the BE?

3. Are there similar patterns between fungi and bacteria?

4. How does study design/sequencing method (e.g. clones vs. 454 vs. Illumina data) affect patterns?

5. Related to point 4, a meta-analysis will inform further studies’ experimental design, elucidating where/when/how we currently do not have any/few data (i.e. undeveloped nations, winter, rural communities, fungi in general).

We are hoping to undertake computational analysis in October, once all of our datasets have been put together!


AAAR Annual Conference in Portland


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


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


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!


Jessica participated in the HOPES[19] Conference at the University of Oregon last week on a panel discussing the “Limits and Opportunities of Design.” The panel was comprised of diverse perspectives on building design including experts in sociology, chemistry, and architecture.

HOPES[19] (Holistic Options for Planet Earth Sustainability) is an annual conference that began in 1995 which “works to promote the deeper understanding and broader application of sustainable design principles.”