This past year has easily produced the largest number of research topics I have been working on concurrently. In addition to publishing a paper on the rumen in cattle last September, I have been working on a paper on the rumen of yearling rams which is currently in preparation and due to be submitted to a scientific journal for review soon. I still have several small projects in development from my post-doc in the Yeoman lab, as well as a number of grad-student-led papers that are still pending, and was invited to contribute to a scientific review which is also in preparation.
I’ve been working through the large dataset of soil samples from my post-doc in the Menalled lab. That large project has blossomed into four papers thus far, two of which I’m writing on the soil bacteria, and one of which I am co-authoring on the legacy effects of climate change. Those four are also due for submission to scientific journals for review soon. The Menalled lab just received a grant award from USDA AFRI NIFA, on which I am a (subaward) PI and to which I will be contributing soil bacterial community analysis.
The rumen and soil work over the past year has been entirely in my spare time, however, as my position in the Biology and the Built Environment Center has kept me delightful busy. I have been collaboratively processing a large and complex dataset on weatherization, home operation and lifestyle, indoor air quality, and microorganisms in dust, which I will be presenting at two (possibly three) conferences this summer. I have also been collaboratively writing grant proposals, and while those are still in development or pending review, they span everything from light, to chemistry, to plants and living machines, to hospitals, to social networks in buildings. I hope to further develop some of these collaborations with a short trip at the end of June to the University of Austin, Texas’ Test House.
In addition, I have been assisting in the planning, development, and launch of the University of Oregon’s Institute for Health in the Built Environment. The Institute will facilitate collaboration and information sharing between researchers and industry professionals, with the goal of researching, building, and promoting healthier built environments. The Institute just hosted its #BuildHealth2018 Consortium meeting in Portland, OR, at which I presented some of the results from that large weatherization study regarding indoor plants. The meeting was fantastic, and spurred in-depth discussion on problems facing industry professionals, innovative research goals, and a wealth of new possibilities.
In the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of my spare time helping to develop the Eugene Pod of 500 Women Scientists, an organization created to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in science, and to promote education and interactive between scientists and the general public. We have focused on hosting monthly Science Salon events, four to date, to do just that. I presented at the first one, and have helped organize and MC the others. The Eugene Pod’s activities were just featured on the central 500 WS page, as Pod of the Week, and you can also follow our updates and events on our Facebook page.
While it has been a struggle to maintain regular contributions, I still maintain Give Me the Short Version, along with a few intrepid contributors, which summarizes scientific articles for easier consumption. This spring, I spent several days judging STEM and robotics competitions for several local Eugene middle and high schools, which has been a lot of fun. The student projects are enthusiastic and creative, and I appreciate the chance to assist in these programs in some small way.
I have continued to mentor UO students. The post-bac student from the BioBE lab that was learning bioinformatics with me, Mitch Rezzonico, was accepted to the University of Oregon’s Bioinformatics and Genomics Master’s Program! Mitch wrapped up his work this spring to prepare for the intensive program, and with his interest in health research, BioBE hopes to work with him again in the future. BioBE recently hired an undergraduate student for science communication, Mira Zimmerman. Mira has been making some upgrades to the BioBE and ESBL websites which will continue to be rolled out over the next few months. In addition, she will be helping me develop informative blog posts on the built environment, and helping to grow our information dissemination capabilities. Hiring a student as a science communicator was something I had been hoping to test out, and so far it’s been a smashing success.
My course proposal for “Introduction to Mammalian Microbiomes” was accepted by the University of Oregon Clark Honor’s College for the fall term!
In April, I gave a guest lecture to Mark Fretz’s Design the Unseen course at the University of Oregon, on the Indoor Microbiome. The class was populated by architecture students, who were learning about integrating health considerations into design strategies. As a final project, students design a brief field experiment or intervention strategy for a design assistance project with Portland firms. I assisted one group in designing a small experiment on natural daylighting in an office and the effect on E. coli growth on culture plates – more on those results soon!
Later that same day, I have a lecture at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, as part of their OMSI After Dark series which opens the museum after-hours to adults for hands-on activities and lectures. The lecture was on the gut microbiome, and I was able to present in the Planetarium!