Category: Meetings

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.”

Skin Microbiome Workshop in Boulder, CO

In mid-October members of the BioBE center, co-director Brendan Bohannan and Biology graduate student Ashley Bateman, attended the Skin Microbiome Workshop in Boulder, CO. The 2-day meeting was facilitated by Rob Knight from UC-Boulder and Wally Buchholz from the Army’s Life Sciences Division, and was intended to provide a forum for diverse members of the Skin Microbiota community (including physicians, biological scientists, and biophysicists) to meet and form potential collaborative partnerships while formulating both observational and hypothesis-driven approaches and questions to address the most pressing questions in the field.

Many of the questions that came out of the workshop have been and continue to be fundamental to the BioBE’s mission: what is the relationship between the environment (including the built environment) and an individual’s microbiome? Is an individual’s microbiome consistently unique, and do we leave a fingerprint of our uniqueness on the built environment? What kinds of implications might this have for future forensic approaches? It was a beneficial and productive workshop, and we at the BioBE center look forward to continuing our work that will address these important questions! Thanks to Rob Knight and Wally Buchholz for facilitating a wonderful workshop!

QIIME/VAMPS Workshop Wraps Up at CU-Boulder

Built environment researchers from all over the country got together last week to improve the functionality of two of the most commonly-used bioinformatics pipelines, QIIME and VAMPS, and to facilitate data sharing. Rob Knight and Mitch Sogin were on hand to discuss current capabilities of the software packages, and Greg Caporaso wrapped up the meeting with an excellent tutorial for using QIIME on the Amazon Cloud. Researchers from the major built environment labs each presented current bioinformatics approaches and challenges, including James Meadow (BioBE Center), who discussed our most recent findings from the Lillis Business Complex Project. MicroBEnet has aggregated presentation slides and videos on their blog.