Last week was my first week as a Research Assistant Professor in the Biology and the Built Environment Center (BioBE) at the University of Oregon, and my first full week in Eugene. Combined with the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory, our collaborative team of architects and biologists researches how to make buildings more efficient, sustainable, pleasant, and healthy.
My first day started auspiciously as I charted a new bike route to work, about 4.5 mi of which is along a path snaking next to the Willamette River. It goes through several parks, and by a few small lakes and swamps which are home to dozens of species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. I haven’t seen any river otters yet, but I have been keeping a close eye out.
Arriving on campus, most of my first day, and first week, were spent visiting the various places around campus to get myself established as a new employee- obtaining my ID card and email address, filing out paperwork, attending orientation, and finding all the coffee places within walking distance of the building. ESBL is renovating and expanding its offices across several large, pluripotent rooms to accommodate a growing research team, so I got a brand new standing desk, chair, shelving, and computers (on order), all to my specifications. The flexibility of working position, screen size, and screen angle provided by my new station are comfortable and great for productivity, and it’s neat to design the new space into offices, meeting tables, and storage which are based on our personalized usage needs and preferences. And of course, there is plenty of space for all the mementos and science toys I’ve accumulated.
Most importantly, my first week was spent acclimating to my new department and getting up to speed on the ongoing and planned projects. BioBE and ESBL have dozens on ongoing or planned projects on the built environment, with a combination of building and biology facets. Over the course of the summer, I’ll be writing several grants and organizing new projects that explore how building use, occupancy, and human habits affect human health and the indoor microbiome, as well as contributing to the BioBE blog, providing building microbiome posts to Give Me the Short Version, and getting some older projects out for publication. On top of that, I’m looking forward to exploring the Pacific coast and the Northwestern landscape, and availing myself of the Willamette Valley wine industry.