Mhuireach Awarded A&AA Dissertation Fellowship 2017-2018

Congratulations to Gwynne Mhuireach for winning a Dissertation Fellowship from the School of Architecture & Allied Arts at the University of Oregon!  Her working dissertation title is: Toward a Mechanistic Understanding of Relationships Between Airborne Microbial Communities and Urban Vegetation: Implications for Urban Planning and Human Well-being.  Mhuireach holds an M.Architecture (2012) from the University of Oregon and a B.S. in Biology (Ecology and Evolution Track, 1999) form the University of Washington. She is presently a Graduate Research Fellow at the Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory and BioBE Center at University of Oregon.  Her anticipated graduation is June 2018.

Recent publication: Urban greenness influences airborne bacterial community composition

Dissertation Abstract: Variation in exposure to environmental microbial communities has been implicated in the etiology of allergies, asthma and other immune-related disorders. In particular, exposure to a high diversity of microbes during early life, for example through living in highly vegetated environments like farms or forests, may have specific health benefits, including immune system development and stimulation. In the face of rapidly growing cities and potential reductions in urban green space, it is vital to clarify whether and how microbial community composition is related to vegetation. The purpose of my proposed research is to identify plausible but under-explored mechanisms through which urban vegetation may influence public health. Specifically, I am investigating how airborne microbial communities vary with the amount, structural diversity, and/or species composition of green space for 50 sites in Eugene, Oregon. My approach combines geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing data with passive air sampling and culture-independent microbial sequencing.

Committee members:

  • Dr. Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture (Major Advisor & Committee Chair)
  • Dr. Jessica Green, Professor of Biology (Co-Advisor)
  • Roxi Thoren, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture (Core Member)
  • Dr. Deb Johnson-Shelton, Education/Health Researcher, Oregon Research Institute (Core Member)
  • G.Z. Brown, Professor of Architecture (Institutional Representative)

Health + Energy Research Consortium

The Biology and the Built Environment Center (BioBE) and Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory (ESBL) at the University of Oregon, are pleased to announce the launch of the the Health + Energy Research Consortium!  On May 4-5, 2017, in Portland Oregon, we begin our journey to dramatically reduce energy consumption and maximize human health by conducting research that transforms the design, construction and operation of built environments. This collaboration between innovative industry professionals and academic researchers in the disciplines of architecture, biology, chemistry, engineering, and urban design provides sharp focus to a research agenda that will accelerate the impact of key scientific discoveries.  The Health + Energy Research Consortium builds upon the momentum of ESBL and BioBE to create a new, dynamic, and flexible mechanism for the university to engage with industry in joint research and development ventures – providing intellectual space for the meeting of a wide array of disciplines that play integral roles in fostering improved energy efficiency and health outcomes in the built environment.

At the May 4-5 launch event , we will present the vision for the Consortium, solicit feedback about the proposed research agenda, explain and discuss the financial commitments and value proposition associated with Consortium membership, and discuss synergies with potential member organizations’ goals and objectives.  If you are interested in helping us align the Consortium research vision with the challenges that face our built environment and your industry sector, please contact BioBE Director, Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg.

We would like to acknowledge the generous support for the Health + Energy Research Consortium from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Registration is required, but the event is available at no charge.