Green speaks at symposium on microbiomes and the built environment

Jessica Green, associate professor in the UO Department of Biology, was a featured speaker at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Symposium on Microbiomes of the Built Environment, on March 27 in Washington, D.C.

The daylong event was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which funds the UO’s Biology and Built Environment Center (BioBE), directed by Green. BioBE seeks to develop a hypothesis-driven, evidence-based approach to understanding the built environment microbiome. The center’s goal is to optimize the design and operation of buildings to promote both human health and environmental sustainability, with an emphasis on green healthcare design. The Sloan Foundation has made the BioBE center a focal point in its Microbiology of the Built Environment program which seeks to grow a new field of scientific inquiry around the complex microbial ecosystems of the built environment.

Green participated in two panels at the symposium, including one focused on Indoor Microbiomes: The Diverse Microbial Communities Existing Within our Buildings. The title of her talk was “The Recent Field of Microbiomes of the Built Environment, and Potential Impacts on Building Design and Human Health.” The event aimed to examine the microbial communities, or “microbiomes,” that exist in the air, water systems and on surfaces within built environments. Event organizers, summed up one aim of the symposium in an opening message:

“Understanding the diversity of microorganisms present, how they behave under different environmental conditions/building designs, and their impacts on our health and infrastructure, are critical steps that will help us improve our building designs, and subsequently our energy use, health, and security.”

Green contributed to a panel discussion on the State of the Field, and the Future examining new directions. She joined other leading experts in her field and a wide array of stakeholders at the symposium — including representatives from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Green was named a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow and is currently working at the Ecole Polytechnique in France on two projects: the development of a microbial community theory for urban environments and the production of a graphic novel, "Cities Unseen," about microbes in the buildings around us. She is collaborating with Hélène Morlon, who was a postdoctoral researcher in Green's lab and now is a scientist for France's National Center for Scientific Research.