MoBE building science workshop

sloan bldgsci logo full

Recent advances in culture-independent molecular techniques and computational tools for analyzing microbial communities, coupled with the recognition that the majority of people in the developed world spend most of their lives indoors, has led to a rapid increase in the number of studies exploring microbial diversity within the built environment. Many of these recent studies, particularly those funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program on the Microbiology of the Built Environment (MoBE), have been driven and led by microbiologists. However, there remains a need to solicit input from expert building scientists and engineers on the overall effectiveness of these previous studies for advancing knowledge of microbial communities in the indoor environment, to identify existing gaps in these studies, and to inform a research agenda for future studies of the microbiology of the built environment that stems from deep knowledge of how buildings are constructed, operated, and occupied. Therefore, this invitation-only workshop aims to bring together a group of experts in building science and engineering with a smaller number of microbiologists to discuss existing gaps and future opportunities for research on the microbiology of the built environment. Outcomes of the workshop are expected to advance the MoBE program’s research goals and ultimately increase efficiency and impact among grantees.

For invitees to the workshop, the tentative schedule is listed below. Stay tuned to this page for updates as the workshop draws nearer. You should go ahead and make your arrangements for travel and lodging now and submit your receipts for reimbursement at your convenience.


Thursday, May 22, 2014 | Downtown Chicago

All day: Participants arrive in Chicago

6:30 pm: Group dinner | Quartino | 626 N State St | Downtown Chicago

9:00 pm: Return to hotels

Friday, May 23, 2014 | Illinois Institute of Technology

McCormick Tribune Campus Center | 3201 S State St | Executive Conference Room

8:00 am: Arrive IIT

  • Light breakfast and coffee

8:30 am: Kick-off presentations

  • Paula Olsiewski, Sloan Foundation: Welcome
  • Brent Stephens, IIT: Review of recent MoBE studies from the perspective of a building scientist

9:15 am: MoBE from the perspective of several disciplines (20-min invited presentations)

  • Jeffrey Siegel, University of Toronto, Building science
  • Hal Levin, Building Ecology, Architecture/Building science
  • Shelly Miller, University of Colorado, Environmental engineering
  • Rachel Adams, University of California Berkeley, Microbiology
  • Seema Bhangar, University of California Berkeley, Environmental engineering/health

11:00 am: Group discussion and facilitated brainstorming session

  • Assign breakout groups and tasks

12:00 pm: Delivered lunch in main meeting room

1:00 pm: Get outside! IIT campus tour

1:45 pm: Breakout discussion groups (groups of 7-8)

  • Your tasks:
  1. Identify key research questions (RQs)
  2. Synthesize research questions into thematic areas
  3. Prioritize/rank thematic areas and RQs

3:00 pm: Synthesize/summarize themes from breakout sessions

  • Pitch priority research goals

3:45 pm: Group discussion leading towards consensus on priority research areas

5:00 pm: End of workshop and departures


Post-workshop update:

A full meeting report is available for download (June 2014).


Workshop Resources:

Kelley, S.T., Gilbert, J.A. 2013. Studying in the microbiology of the indoor environment. Genome Biology 14:202.

Konya, T., Scott, J.A. 2014. Recent advances in the microbiology of the built environment. Curr Sustainable Renewable Energy Rep, 1:35-42.

US EPA 2013. Moisture Control Guidance for Building Design, Construction and Maintenance.

Current list of Sloan MoBE grantees.

Mendeley collection of Sloan MoBE grantee publications.

Broader MoBE Mendeley collection.