I am delighted to announce that a collaborative paper on the 2021 Microbes and Social Equity Symposium was just published! I was invited by the Challenges journal’s editor-in-chief to submit a contribution about the group’s activities, and the together the session organizers, speakers, student assistants, and I wrote about our experiences putting this together. The journal is dedicated to published highly interdisciplinary research which looks things from multiple perspectives and which contributes to Planetary Health.
We learned that, much like microbes, audiences don’t always act the way you expect them to. Even better: we learned that by providing collaborative working time after listening to speaker sessions, which could be used to get our thoughts down on paper, we could capture the magic and inspiration of the conversations we had post-talks and revisit those later as research and outreach resources.
You can check out the full article here.
And, if you are interested by what you read about last year’s event, check out this year’s symposium, happening next week!
Designing the Microbes and Social Equity Symposium, a Novel Interdisciplinary Virtual Research Conference Based on Achieving Group-Directed Outputs
Suzanne L. Ishaq 1,2,*, Emily F. Wissel 3, Patricia G. Wolf 4,5, Laura Grieneisen 6, Erin M. Eggleston 7, Gwynne Mhuireach 8, Michael Friedman 9, Anne Lichtenwalner 1,10, Jessica Otero Machuca 11, Katherine Weatherford Darling 12,13, Amber L. Pearson 14, Frank S. Wertheim 15, Abigail J. Johnson 16, Leslie Hodges 17, Sabrina K. Young 18, Charlene C. Nielsen 19, Anita L. Kozyrskyj 20, Jean D. MacRae 21, Elise McKenna Myers 22, Ariangela J. Kozik 23, Lisa Marie Tussing-Humphreys 24, Monica Trujillo 25, Gaea A. Daniel 26, Michael R. Kramer 27, Sharon M. Donovan 28, Myra Arshad 29, Joe Balkan 30 and Sarah Hosler 31
Abstract: The Microbes and Social Equity working group was formed in 2020 to foster conversations on research, education, and policy related to how microorganisms connect to personal, societal, and environmental health, and to provide space and guidance for action. In 2021, we designed our first virtual Symposium to convene researchers already working in these areas for more guided discussions. The Symposium organizing team had never planned a research event of this scale or style, and this perspective piece details that process and our reflections. The goals were to 1) convene interdisciplinary audiences around topics involving microbiomes and health, 2) stimulate conversation around a selected list of paramount research topics, and 3) leverage the disciplinary and professional diversity of the group to create meaningful agendas and actionable items for attendees to continue to engage with after the meeting. Sixteen co-written documents were created during the Symposium which contained ideas and resources, or identified barriers and solutions to creating equity in ways which would promote beneficial microbial interactions. The most remarked-upon aspect was the working time in the breakout rooms built into the schedule. MSE members agreed that in future symposia, providing interactive workshops, training, or collaborative working time would provide useful content, a novel conference activity, and allow attendees to accomplish other work-oriented goals simultaneously.
1 School of Food and Agriculture, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, USA; 2 Institute of Medicine, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, USA; 3 School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322; 4 Department of Nutrition Science, Purdue University, West-Lafayette, Indiana, USA, 47907; 5 Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA; 6 Department of Genetics, Cell, & Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55108, USA; 7 Department of Biology, Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont 05753, USA; 8 Department of Architecture, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403 USA; 9 Department of Science and Mathematics, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York 11205, USA; 10 Cooperative Extension, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, USA; 11 Mayo Clinic, Orlando, Florida 32837, USA; 12 Social Science Program University of Maine at Augusta Bangor, Maine 04401, USA; 13 Graduate School of Biomedical Science & Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, USA; 14 Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA; 15 Cooperative Extension, University of Maine, Springvale, Maine 04083, USA; 16 Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA; 17 Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, USA; 18 Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, USA; 19 School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; 20 Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; 21 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, 5711 Boardman Hall, Orono, Maine 04469, USA; 22 Boston Consulting Group, Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA; 23 Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan. Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA; 24 Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA; 25 Department of Biology, Queensborough Community College, Queens, New York 11364, USA; 26 Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA; 27 Department of Epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA; 28 Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801 USA; 29 Department of Biology, Stoney Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA; 30 Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts 02155, USA; 31 School of Food and Agriculture, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, USA;