BioBE presentations at the ESA meeting next week

The 2017 Ecological Society of America (ESA) conference is being held next week in Portland, OR, at the Oregon Convention Center, and members of the BioBE team will have a strong showing. After the conference, we’ll be sure to have a round-up post with more information on our presentations.

Dr. Roo Vandegrift: OOS 3-4 — Moving Microbes: the dynamics of the skin microbiome in response to environmental exposures. (Revised; listed as “The built environment as a reservoir for transmission and colonization of the skin microbiome.”) Monday, August 7, 2017: 2:30 PM, Portland Blrm 256.

Ashley Bateman1, Roxana Hickey2, Ashkaan K. Fahimipour3, Roo Vandegrift3, Brendan J.M. Bohannan3 and Jessica L. Green3, (1)Biology and the Built Environment Center, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, (2)Phylagen, San Francisco, CA, (3)Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Dr. Erica HartmannOOS 17-9 — Antibiotic resistance and antimicrobial chemicals in the built environment. Tuesday, August 8, 2017: 4:20 PM, Portland Blrm 258.

Erica Hartmann1, Roxana Hickey2, Tiffany Hsu3, Jing Chen4, Clarisse M. Betancourt Román2, Adam J. Glawe1, Jeff Kline5, Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg5, G.Z. (Charlie) Brown5, Rolf U. Halden4, Curtis Huttenhower3 and Jessica L. Green2, (1)Civil and Environmental Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, (2)Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, (3)Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, (4)Biodesign Center for Environmental Security, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, (5)Department of Architecture, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Gwynne MhuireachPS 29-166 — Fine-scale urban vegetation patterns shape airborne microbial community composition (poster). Tuesday, August 8, 2017 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM, Exhibit Hall.

Gwynne Mhuireach1, Clarisse Betancourt2, Jessica L. Green3, and Bart R. Johnson4,(1)Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon; Biology and the Built Environment Center, (2)Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids, MI, (3)Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, (4)Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Dr. Sue IshaqPS 31-13 — Soil bacterial diversity in response to stress from farming system, climate change, weed diversity, and wheat streak virus (poster). Wednesday, August 9th from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, Exhibit Hall.

Suzanne L. Ishaq1, Tim Seipel2, Alexandra M. Thornton2, and Fabian Menalled2, (1) University of Oregon, Biology and the Built Environment, (2)Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

Dr. Ashkaan Fahimipour: OOS 43-3 — The dynamics of food web assembly: Structure, stability, and trophic cascades. Thursday, Aug 10, 2:10 pm, Portland Blrm 258. 

Ashkaan will be the opening speaker for this session, which will cover the establishment of interaction ecology as a discipline, particularly focusing on how recent developments contribute to basic understanding of ecological processes at multiple scales and to the solution of environmental problems across the globe. We will begin by providing a synthesis of key processes that act at different temporal and spatial scales to determine the organization of complex systems.

Congratulations to Dr. Ashley Bateman on her defense, next steps!

We made sure to send her off with some Oregon memorabilia.

Last week, BioBE said good-bye and good-luck to Ashley Bateman, who successfully defended her dissertation on May 25th.  Ashley has been with the department for 6 years, as a graduate student in the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon.  She worked in the labs of Drs. Jessica Green and Brendan Bohannan, studying the human skin microbiome.  Her thesis, entitled “Moving Microbes: The dynamics of microbial transfer and persistence on human skin“, will soon be available through the University of Oregon library.

Starting in 2011, Ashley has had a very distinguished graduate career; in 2012 she received a  National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) award to conduct research on the transfer of microorganisms to human skin from contact sources, in 2013 she was named Outstanding Graduate Student by the UO Institute of Molecular Biology, in 2015 she received the William R. Sistrom Memorial Scholarship Award, and in 2016 she won a scholarship from the Women in Graduate Sciences organization at UO to attend the Pacific Northwest Women in Science Retreat.  She has already co-authored a number of cutting-edge papers, including the investigation of the human microbiome cloud, a meta-analysis on the indoor microbiome, and a review on human hygiene, as well as a number of other previously published and forthcoming articles.  Ashley has also been interviewed and has contributed blog posts on the implications of her work.  From here, she is headed to the University of California, Davis, to attend law school.  BioBE is going to miss her insight, her organizational skills and attention to detail, and her welcoming personality, but we are enthusiastic about the next step in her journey!

ESBL is seeking an Associate Director of Outreach in Portland, OR

The Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory (ESBL) at the University of Oregon is seeking a new Associate Director of Outreach at the Portland location!

At ESBL, as part of the Department of Architecture, we research how buildings, related transportation and land use systems, climate, and human behavior, determine energy and resource use and impact human health. We develop new materials, components, assemblies, whole buildings, and communities with improved performance. We consult and develop design tools to enable professionals to design more effective buildings and communities. We educate professionals and students, so they develop the knowledge and skills necessary for improving building energy performance and human well-being. Finally, we collaborate with academia, government agencies, utilities, product developers, and the profession. ESBL works closely with the Biology and the Built Environment Center (BioBE) as ESBL Director, Dr. Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, is Co-director of BioBE.  Examples of our collaborative work include how the shape of a building and its use affects microbial dispersal, or the effect of home weatherization on air quality and the indoor microbiome, and many other studies in our state-of-the-art climate chamber in Portland.

Together, BioBE and ESBL launched the Health+Energy Research Consortium (HERC) in May 2017 with their inaugural meeting, which brings university researchers and building science professionals together to exchange information on the built environment, assess the need for research that can provide answers related to design and health choices, and foster collaborations that benefit both the academic and industry sectors while providing a beneficial impact on human health, building design, and energy sustainability.  The Consortium aims to dramatically reduce energy consumption and maximize human health by conducting research that transforms the design, construction and operation of built environments. Collaboration between innovative industry professionals and academic researchers in the disciplines of architecture, biology, chemistry, engineering, and urban design provides sharp focus to our research agenda and accelerates the impact of our scientific discoveries.

Position Summary
The Department of Architecture seeks a creative and innovative faculty member for a faculty position to teach, secure and conduct research, oversee the Portland ESBL, and to cultivate outreach and engagement. The chosen candidate will support the ESBL director by leading the lab’s Portland-based outreach efforts by securing grants and contracts to fund the lab’s work. Specifically, the candidate will lead the effort to develop the HERC industry-university research consortium (following, in-part, the NSF IUCRC model). S/he will also be expected to contribute to ESBL’s teaching obligations to A&AA students in Portland, possibly including architectural design studios, environmental control systems, and related technical courses. The selected candidate will develop and maintain strong industry support for the University of Oregon HERC, thus this position will have a large outreach component. Finally, the selected candidate will share the obligation to secure and conduct research, technical assistance, and project based education in cooperation with ESBL faculty and staff and associated architectural and engineering professional design teams to support ESBL’s mission.

Minimum Requirements
• Terminal degree from accredited college or university.
• Three or more years of research or outreach administrative experience, or relevant transferable experience.
• Professional training or relevant transferable experience managing a budget.
• Experience in a lead or supervisory role.

The full job posting and application can be found here.

The initial review of applications begins August 1st, 2017, but the position will remain open to application until filled. We look forward to hearing from you!

HERC Recap: Artist Morgan Maiolie

How do you illustrate the microbiome of bacterial, fungal and viral communities to architects, engineers and building equipment manufacturers?  You commission an artist! During the events of Health and Energy Research Consortium, Morgan Maiolie was busy with a brush set to canvas. Associate Professor, and director Van Den Wymelenberg notes “We really wanted to find a way to bring the microbiome to life for the diverse consortium guests, so we decided to invite an artist to complete a live painting that responded to the research presentations.  Morgan Maiolie did an excellent job understanding and translating our scientific findings into her painting.  She made the microbiome vibrant and tangible!”

Morgan describes her inspiration, “The team of research scientists at the Biology and Built Environment Center and Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory have illuminated the world of living, breathing bacteria swirling in the air around us and this piece visualizes that invisible world.  The researchers made me aware of the key role building design plays in shaping our indoor microbiome. Buildings can act as filters, petri dishes, and wind tunnels.  I wanted the painting to conceptually reveal how bacteria might move into and through a building based on its architecture, systems, and inhabitation.”

To learn more about Maolie and her work, please visit her website: maiolie.com.

This post is part of a blog series sharing information covered at the Health Energy Research Consortium in Portland, OR May 4-5, 2017. 

Daylight Exposure & Microbial Communities Indoors

The microbiome and its relevance to healthy environments was of critical interest at the Health Energy Research Consortium.  Ashkaan Fahimipour, presented BioBE‘s recent investigations in microbial communities and exposure to daylight.

Humans spend most of their time indoors, exposed to bacterial communities found in dust. Understanding what determines the structure of these communities may therefore have relevance for human health. Light exposure in particular is a critical building design consideration and is known to alter growth and mortality rates of many bacterial populations, but the effects of light on the structure of entire dust communities are unclear.

We performed a controlled microcosm experiment designed to parse the effects of filtered solar radiation on the structure of dust microbial communities.

We report that exposure to light per se has marked effects on community diversity, composition and viability, while variation in light dosage or particular wavelengths experienced are associated with nuanced changes in community structure. Our results suggest that architects and lighting professionals designing rooms with more or less access to daylight may play a role in shaping bacterial communities associated with indoor dust.

This post is part of a blog series sharing information covered at the Health Energy Research Consortium in Portland, OR May 4-5, 2017. View the original post on the ESBL blog.

Dr. Sue Ishaq joins the BioBE team!

Hello, readers! I’m Dr. Sue Ishaq, the newest Research Assistant Professor hire in the BioBE center at the University of Oregon.  I’ve been at the center for two weeks now, and I thought I’d introduce myself as I’ll soon be a regular contributor to the center’s research efforts and blog.  I’m a microbial ecologist with a focus on host-associated microbiomes. My baccalaureate and doctorate were both in animal science and nutrition from the University of Vermont, in Burlington.  As a Ph.D. student in the Wright Lab, my work focused on identifying and manipulating the bacteria, methanogens, and protozoa in the rumen of the North American moose.  For the past two years, I was a post-doctoral researcher at Montana State University, in Bozeman.  For one year, I was in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences performing the bioinformatic analyses for multiple host-associated and environmental projects in the Yeoman Lab.  My second year was in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences in the Menalled Lab, where I was part of a large project investigating the effect of climate change on wheat production.  For my part, this meant assessing the changes to soil bacteria over time and under different climate scenarios.

Here at the BioBE, I’ll be adding my experience in host-associated microbiomes, bacterial ecology, and health, to the growing collaborative research team.  Over the course of the summer, I’ll be writing several grants and organizing new projects that explore how building design, occupancy, pets, and human habits affect human health and the indoor microbiome.  If you happened to have been at the Health + Energy Research Consortium, held in Portland in May, you might have seen me around, and I’ll also be at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Portland, OR in August.  You can follow me on my personal blog and, of course, you can find me on the BioBE blog!

2017 AIA Design & Health Research Consortium Convening

On March 21-22, the BioBE Center team took to Detroit to present “Biology & Buildings: How Indoor Environments Affect Human Health” to the American Institute of Architects Design & Health Research Consortium.  We were encouraged to see the diversity of research blooming at our fellow ACSA schools of architecture. For example, Joseph Kennedy from the NewSchool of Architecture & Design presented fascinating work on natural building materials in a panel discussion with members of the BioBE team. Bita Kash from Texas A&M University presented excellent work on integrating health and design, discussing ideas of fundamental adjacencies in the design process. Every panel was excellent, and the broad concern for integration of empirical methods to design evaluation was wonderful to see.

Most interesting was to learn from leading architecture firms about how they integrate research into their design practices and how they have developed funding models to support this research.  Upali Nanda (@upalinanda) of HKS Architects (Houston) talked about the importance of pooling research resources and openly sharing new knowledge in order to more rapidly progress the field and avoid redundancy.  Jeri Brittin, Director of Research at HDR Architects (Omaha) eloquently described how the research design process shares similarities with the building design process and how she has effectively used this analogy to explain the value of a rigorous research design process to firm decision makers.  Robert Phinney (@rsphinney), Sustainable Design Director at Page Architects (Washington DC), described the uphill climb that many firms face when trying to meaningfully integrate original research into the building design practice, stressing that measurable outcomes and financial metrics dominate the discourse.  What was most encouraging was that all three firm leaders described the immense value to their firms and clients of maintaining a tight relationship with university research and how rewarding it can be to work with academics to leverage their technical skills to help overcome the “pain points” facing their practice.  We couldn’t agree more!

Some of our most rewarding research has been closely linked with practical industry needs. However, there are some challenges that we face in the academy when integrating our work with industry objective.  First and foremost, is to ensure academic integrity when creating the research design to avoid real or perceived biases associated with industry engaged research.  Without this, the research has no value to industry or to science.  Other important considerations is to be nimble enough to complete the research at the “speed of business” and to work out possible concerns with intellectual property.  All of these, and other concerns, can be, and have been overcome.  The result in an opportunity to bring the leading scientific processes and utmost rigor to important problems that face society.  Industry partners can help to focus academic research and help it gain traction to make greater impact more rapidly.  It is for these reasons that we have launched a new industry engagement model here at the University of Oregon.

Mhuireach Awarded A&AA Dissertation Fellowship 2017-2018

Congratulations to Gwynne Mhuireach for winning a Dissertation Fellowship from the School of Architecture & Allied Arts at the University of Oregon!  Her working dissertation title is: Toward a Mechanistic Understanding of Relationships Between Airborne Microbial Communities and Urban Vegetation: Implications for Urban Planning and Human Well-being.  Mhuireach holds an M.Architecture (2012) from the University of Oregon and a B.S. in Biology (Ecology and Evolution Track, 1999) form the University of Washington. She is presently a Graduate Research Fellow at the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory and BioBE Center at University of Oregon.  Her anticipated graduation is June 2018.

Recent publication: Urban greenness influences airborne bacterial community composition

Dissertation Abstract: Variation in exposure to environmental microbial communities has been implicated in the etiology of allergies, asthma and other immune-related disorders. In particular, exposure to a high diversity of microbes during early life, for example through living in highly vegetated environments like farms or forests, may have specific health benefits, including immune system development and stimulation. In the face of rapidly growing cities and potential reductions in urban green space, it is vital to clarify whether and how microbial community composition is related to vegetation. The purpose of my proposed research is to identify plausible but under-explored mechanisms through which urban vegetation may influence public health. Specifically, I am investigating how airborne microbial communities vary with the amount, structural diversity, and/or species composition of green space for 50 sites in Eugene, Oregon. My approach combines geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing data with passive air sampling and culture-independent microbial sequencing.

Committee members:

  • Dr. Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture (Major Advisor & Committee Chair)
  • Dr. Jessica Green, Professor of Biology (Co-Advisor)
  • Roxi Thoren, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture (Core Member)
  • Dr. Deb Johnson-Shelton, Education/Health Researcher, Oregon Research Institute (Core Member)
  • G.Z. Brown, Professor of Architecture (Institutional Representative)

 

 

 

Health + Energy Research Consortium

The Biology and the Built Environment Center (BioBE) and Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory (ESBL) at the University of Oregon, are pleased to announce the launch of the the Health + Energy Research Consortium!  On May 4-5, 2017, in Portland Oregon, we begin our journey to dramatically reduce energy consumption and maximize human health by conducting research that transforms the design, construction and operation of built environments. This collaboration between innovative industry professionals and academic researchers in the disciplines of architecture, biology, chemistry, engineering, and urban design provides sharp focus to a research agenda that will accelerate the impact of key scientific discoveries.  The Health + Energy Research Consortium builds upon the momentum of ESBL and BioBE to create a new, dynamic, and flexible mechanism for the university to engage with industry in joint research and development ventures – providing intellectual space for the meeting of a wide array of disciplines that play integral roles in fostering improved energy efficiency and health outcomes in the built environment.

At the May 4-5 launch event , we will present the vision for the Consortium, solicit feedback about the proposed research agenda, explain and discuss the financial commitments and value proposition associated with Consortium membership, and discuss synergies with potential member organizations’ goals and objectives.  If you are interested in helping us align the Consortium research vision with the challenges that face our built environment and your industry sector, please contact BioBE Director, Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg.

We would like to acknowledge the generous support for the Health + Energy Research Consortium from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Registration is required, but the event is available at no charge.

EPA Progress Meeting

Jeff Kline presented BioBE’s project, “The Impact of Weatherization on Microbial Ecology and Human Health” at EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Indoor Air & Climate Change Progress Review Meeting and Webinar.  The meeting was held in December in Washington, D.C. The presentations will be made available on the meeting website.