Newsmaker: Jessica Green brings microbes to life
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
This weekend, Jessica Green will tell Portland why microbes matter.
Jessica Green — aka "Thumper Biscuit" in roller derby circles — will speak at the TEDxPDX event this weekend about the role that microbes can play in green building.
Green is a professor at both the University of Oregon and the Santa Fe Institute. She's a TED Fellow whose current goal is to help people visualize the invisible world of microorganisms to foster a world full of buildings that limit infectious disease and maximize energy.
We caught up with Green to get a preview of her talk and why we should care about microbes.
Sustainable Business Oregon: How do you talk about the microorganisms you study to the uninitiated? Why should people care about them?
Jessica Green: We are alive thanks to our microbes! Although the bad microbes — the minority that make us sick — get all the press, the majority of microbes are our guardians and keep us healthy. Our good microbes protect us from pathogens, harvest energy from our food and regulate our immune system. Mounting evidence suggests they even influence our mood and levels of stress, anxiety and depression.
SBO: How can microorganisms contribute to building efficiency and a greener built environment?
JG: Microbes have the power to make our buildings, and us, healthy. We just need to learn how to work with them. We currently invest a lot of energy and resources trying to keep all microbes out of our buildings. A more sustainable strategy would be to encourage the growth of microbes that do things like clean the air we breathe indoors and boost our immune system,and to discourage the growth of microbes that damage our buildings and make us sick. At the Biology and Built Environment Center we are researching exactly this.
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