Well I am very excited about this article in the Boston Globe today: Ecosystem, sweet ecosystem – The Boston Globe. By Courtney Humphries the article discusses the Sloan Foundation program in the “Indoor Environment” that is focusing on microbial ecology of the built environment. I am, well, really into this area of work and have a grant from the Sloan Foundation in their program to crete something called “microBEnet” which stands for “microbiology of the Built Environment network.” And in case you were wondering, yes, the BE is supposed to be capitalized and the m in microbe is not. My work in microBEnet is focused on Science 2.0 activities to help boost interaction and communication and outreach relating to studies of microbiology of the built environment. Check out the microBEnet site for more detail on that project (more on this in a bit).
Anyway, a little while ago I was interviewed by Courtney Humphries about studies of microbes in the built environment and the conversation seemed to go pretty well. And I kind of forgot about it due to some family things going on in my life. And then yesterday I saw the article. It is quite nice. It starts off with a nice drawing of a house making it look like an ecosystem
and the headline/lead in is really quite perfect “Ecosystem, sweet ecosystem.” is the headline with the subtitle “What if we studies the indoors as an environment all it’s own”. She goes on to quite Hal Levin (my collaborator on microBEnet), Jessica Green (the head of the BioBE center in Oregon focusing on biology of the built environment), me, Paula Olsiewski (the Program Officer at Sloan in charge of the Indoor Environment program) and Bill Nazaroff from Berkeley, who is also funded by the Sloan Foundation to work in this area.
The article is definitely worth a read. Only issue really is that I have a feeling people may be distracted by some sort of storm hitting the East Coast right now. Well, after the storm hits, microbiology of the indoor environment will likely be even more important to pay attention to.
If you want to brush up on studies of microbiology of the built environment check out some of the resources we have made and/or collated at microBEnet including:
- microBEnet Blog with diverse posts such as
- What microbes are lurking in your fish tank? Good candidate for some citizen microbiology I think
- OMG – Nooooooooooooo. There are GERMS in fast food restaurant play areas
- “NIST Finds That Ethanol-Loving Bacteria Accelerate Cracking of Pipeline Steels”
- Microbes in tobacco products: health and policy implications
- Is your dishwasher trying to kill you? Maybe, but no evidence of that from this work
- Travel & meeting notes from #IndoorAir2011 – cross post from Tree of Life blog
- Simple Guides (sort of introductory material for background purposes)
- Full List of Sloan IE Grants
- Mendeley Group for microBEnet (collection of publications related to microbiology of the built environment)
Stay tuned for more, from microBEnet, from Sloan funded researchers, and from others studying microbiology of the built environment. We spend on the order of 90% of our lives in built environments like buildings, cars, trains, etc. It’s about time we started studying such environments as ecosystems …