BioBE has received funding for a new project as part of the new University of Oregon – Oregon Health Sciences University (UO-OHSU) Collaborative Seed Grant Program! BioBE’s Dr. Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, and Dr. Bob Martindale, Professor of Surgery, Chief of Gastrointestinal and General Surgery, and Medical Director of the Hospital Nutritional Service at OHSU, will be leading the project, along with Dr. Brendan Bohannan, Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology at the UO Institute of Ecology and Evolution, and BioBE’s Drs. Ashkaan Fahimipour and Sue Ishaq.
These grants are designed to foster high-impact pilot research between the two universities and to spark long-term collaborations. The full list of award recipients can be found here.
The project is set to begin in July; “Predicting Healthcare-Associated Clostridioides difficile Infection Probabilities in Inpatient Units”
Approximately 10% of patients will be accidentally harmed during inpatient medical care due to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). These infections prolong patient illness, cause death, and financially burden hospitals and society; predicting when and why HAIs will occur is a key goal for fundamental and applied healthcare science. We aim to gather key data to pilot the development of new statistical and machine learning models, which map patients’ probabilities of acquiring HAIs onto the spatial distributions of living microorganisms from hospital surfaces, using C. difficile infection rates in inpatient units at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) as a model system. Our models will leverage information about in situ distributions of viable indoor microbes across patient rooms, and assembled genomes of C. difficile isolates from hospital surfaces, to probe the hypothesis that the built environment contributes to patient HAIs by inadvertently providing reservoirs of microbial pathogens with particular functional characteristics. Results of this pilot study will provide the empirical foundation for larger-scale future experiments, that will contribute to the refinement of predictive statistical models through the study of more hospital buildings, and investigations of alternate fomites and microbial reservoirs including physicians’ and nursing staff’s clothing, medical equipment, computer keyboards, and personal phones. A coherent understanding of the most salient environmental sources of HAIs could improve the placement of patients, assist in monitoring vectors of concern for infection control, and ultimately guide building design and operation.
My name is Mira Zimmerman, and I am the new BioBE/ESBL blogger and web designer! I will be helping with social media and BioBE/ESBL website management.
I am currently an undergrad at the University of Oregon, working towards a Humanities major with minors in Computer Science, Computer Tech, and Multimedia. I have a million different interests, everything from environmental philosophy to surrealist art! I love to hike and I spend a lot of time outdoors, appreciating the beauty of Oregon.
I am very excited to be joining BioBE and ESBL and to have the chance to incorporate myself in the intersections between science and design.
We are excited to announce that ESBL, with TallWood Design Institute, were awarded a grant from Oregon Innovation Council (Oregon InC) to create a facility to test acoustics properties of mass timber products.
About the project:
The new testing facility will provide the information necessary to overcome one of the major barriers to the growth of mass timber: acoustics performance. Mass products are growing in popularity as an innovative building material, particularly in multifamily residential dwellings for which they are structurally well-suited. However, these products’ ability to reduce floor-to-ceiling noise transfer has not been tested. Locally sourced testing of mass timber materials would give building owners, contractors, building code officials, and design and engineering professionals the confidence needed to demonstrate that these products are cost-effective and meet performance requirements.
Currently, the only way to test acoustics performance is to ship samples to testing facilities on the East Coast. This drastically increases project costs and construction schedule. Constructing an acoustic testing facility in Oregon will allow the mass timber industry to become a hub for both the development and production of mass timber products for the US and internationally.
While mass timber is the driving force behind the proposal to acquire this facility, multiple other traded sectors and industries in Oregon and across the Northwest would benefit from the facility, including aviation, other buildings material manufacturers such as glazing and curtain walls, façade cladding, masonry, and straw bale.
For more information, see the Business Oregon press release.
The ESBL is proud and excited to join BioBE and the Baker Lighting Lab as the founding centers of the University of Oregon’s new Institute for Health in the Built Environment! Through interdisciplinary, inter-institutional collaboration, the IHBE aims to support the development of healthy, sustainable buildings and cities for people and the environment.
“The new institute’s mission is to develop design concepts for the realization of healthy and sustainable inhabited space. Faculty researchers aim to do this by forming unconventional collaborations to conduct research where architecture, biology, medicine, chemistry, and engineering intersect, and then translate their findings into design practice with the involvement of a consortium of invested industry partners.”
Read the College of Design’s launch announcement here, and learn more about the new Institute here.
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) Board of Directors awarded Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg the Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award for Innovation. Kevin was nominated for his work in daylighting design research, education, and engagement—work that represents many collaborations over almost two decades, and for which Kevin extends his gratitude to many great colleagues.
“Our work in the field of daylight design is first and foremost about creating high quality indoor environments for people to live, work, and play within. The fact that the energy efficiency community, that is often focused on energy savings, has recognized this work as innovative is very rewarding. It is so important to balance energy priorities with human experiential priorities, and I believe there is value in exploring the synergy among these two goals.”
While accepting the award, Kevin acknowledged NEEA’s unique impact and global reach, attributing his own success in part to the organization’s generosity. NEEA supported Kevin during his graduate studies at the University of Washington, and he has worked alongside the organization for nearly two decades, while at the University of Idaho and University of Oregon. He expresses his deep gratitude for NEEA’s continuous support of students in this area of study in the ESBL at University of Oregon. Thank you to NEEA for this prestigious award, and congratulations to Kevin for his accomplishments!
For more information on the award, view the press release on NEEA.org.
ESBL and BioBE are thrilled to announce that Dr. Siobhan “Shevy” Rockcastle has joined the team as a new Assistant Professor of Architecture, and Chair of the Baker Lighting Lab, in the Department of Architecture on the main University of Oregon campus in Eugene. She will be adding her expertise in architectural design, human perception, environmental dynamics, and building performance with a focus on occupant well-being, particularly with lighting. Dr. Rockcastle’s current research uses virtual reality to map human responses to daylight and composition in immersive architectural environments.
In addition, she is studying the impacts of climate on perception, emotion, and comfort in architecture; the use of virtual reality to study subjective, behavioral, and physiological responses to space; the impacts of light exposure on human health through hormonal responses in the brain; and impacts of sunlight composition on perceptual evaluations of architecture. Students interested in any of these topics are encouraged to contact Dr. Rockcastle to learn about current research opportunities.
Shevy earned her professional BArch from Cornell University in 2008 and her SMArchS degree in Building Technology from MIT in 2011. She has taught design studio and seminar courses in environmental systems at Cornell University, Northeastern, MIT, and EPFL. Her professional work experience includes KVA matX, Snøhetta, MSR, Epiphyte lab, and Gensler. As a continuation of her thesis at MIT, Siobhan’s PhD dissertation used experiments to measure the impacts of daylight and spatial composition on perceptual responses to architecture and proposed simulation-based algorithms to predict these responses under varied climatic conditions. She has published numerous peer-reviewed journal and conference articles on this work and combines scientific publication with applied creative practice.
She is also a co-founder of OCULIGHT dynamics, a Swiss company offering daylight design support through custom simulation-based tools.
Welcome to the team!
ESBL and BioBE are thrilled to announce that Mark Fretz has joined the team as the new Associate Director of Outreach, based in Portland at the White Stag Block location. Mark brings a unique combination of experience in architecture and public health service, and will help further our goal of promoting health in the built environment through research, outreach, and knowledge exchange.
Mark has a history of successful collaboration with the lab — several years ago he was a research assistant with ESBL. He helped to develop the idea and grant for our ongoing project on the effect of weatherization on indoor air quality, human health, and the indoor microbiome. He was also involved developing field materials and pilot studies for our study on the effect of daylight on dust communities, currently in review.
In addition to developing future research and teaching, Mark will primarily be developing the Institute for Health & the Built Environment consortium that ESBL and BioBE initiated in May 2017 with their inaugural meeting. The Consortium aims to dramatically reduce energy consumption and maximize human health by conducting research that transforms the design, construction and operation of built environments. Mark will help foster collaboration between innovative industry professionals and academic researchers in the disciplines of architecture, biology, chemistry, engineering, and urban design, provide sharp focus to our research agenda, and accelerate the impact of our scientific discoveries.
We asked Mark what most inspires him about his new position. Mark responded, “We are at a pivotal time in architecture where we are beginning to understand the implications of the built environment on health and resource use. The solutions to reconcile this coexistence of health and resource use require unconventional thinking and cross-disciplinary collaborations. I am most excited about the opportunity to work together with industry and academia to drive transformative research that produces elegant design solutions capitalizing on synergies between human health and energy efficiency.”
Originally written by sueishaq for BioBE, amended by s.lim for ESBL.
Amir Nezamdoost, UO Architecture PhD and ESBL graduate research fellow, was selected as a finalist for the prestigious SLL Young Lighter of the Year 2017 competition. Nezamdoost is one of three young researchers shortlisted for the international award – the finalists’ presentations and announcement of the winner to follow at the LUX Awards at ExCel in London in November.
For more information on the competition: SLL Young Lighter 2017
Additionally, Nezamdoost received the Richard Kelley Grant for 2016 – an award established by the New York Section
of the Illuminating Engineering Society in 1980. “The purpose is to recognize and encourage creative thought and activity in the use of light. Award(s) are granted to the person(s) who preserve and carry forth Richard Kelly’s ideals, enthusiasm and reverence for light.” – IESNYC
For more information on the Richard Kelly Grant: IESNYC
Congratulations to Amir for success in his lighting research!
The Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory is proud to announce the release of Transforming Architecture: A Festchrift in Honor of Professor G.Z. “Charlie” Brown. The German term Festschrift translates as “festival of writing” and celebrates Charlie’s career and the ideas that he has put forth to transform design and combat climate change. The book includes chapters by Charlie’s friends and colleagues.
How do you illustrate the microbiome of bacterial, fungal and viral communities to architects, engineers and building equipment manufacturers? You commission an artist! During the events of Health and Energy Research Consortium, Morgan Maiolie was busy with a brush set to canvas. Associate Professor, and director Van Den Wymelenberg notes “We really wanted to find a way to bring the microbiome to life for the diverse consortium guests, so we decided to invite an artist to complete a live painting that responded to the research presentations. Morgan Maiolie did an excellent job understanding and translating our scientific findings into her painting. She made the microbiome vibrant and tangible!”
Morgan describes her inspiration, “The team of research scientists at the Biology and Built Environment Center and Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratory have illuminated the world of living, breathing bacteria swirling in the air around us and this piece visualizes that invisible world. The researchers made me aware of the key role building design plays in shaping our indoor microbiome. Buildings can act as filters, petri dishes, and wind tunnels. I wanted the painting to conceptually reveal how bacteria might move into and through a building based on its architecture, systems, and inhabitation.”
To learn more about Maolie and her work, please visit her website: maiolie.com.
This post is part of a blog series sharing information covered at the Health Energy Research Consortium in Portland, OR May 4-5, 2017.