Rice University logoGeorge R. Brown School of Engineering
Civil and Environmental Engineering

CEVE Seminar Series 2017 - Exploring the Microbiome within the Built Environment

Lecture/Lecture Series

Civil and Environmental Engineering

By: Kerry Kinney
From: University of Texas at Austin
When: Friday, February 17, 2017
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Where: Ryon Engineering Building
Abstract: Americans spend nearly 90% of their time inside buildings. These buildings vary considerably with respect to their intended purpose, design and operation. The microbial communities that develop within the built environment reflect these factors as well as the occupants themselves. Recent advances in DNA sequencing technology have provided unprecedented insights into the diverse microorganisms present but their relationship to building and occupancy factors remains an active area of research. In this talk, the relationships between building type, ventilation conditions and potential occupant exposures to microorganisms will be discussed. Our team is investigating several types of indoor environments including portable classroom buildings, conventional high school classrooms and semi-rural homes. Our results suggest that in portable classroom buildings, uncontrolled ventilation conditions can draw air and microorganisms through hidden, unmaintained spaces into the interior space of the buildings. In semi-rural homes, analysis of dust collected from home HVAC filters is being used to assess the relationship between asthma severity and microbial and allergen exposures in the homes. In this work, both potentially detrimental and potentially beneficial microbial exposures are being investigated. Finally, our group is working with others across campus to engage students in the collection and analysis of environmental and microbiome data as part of our Mapping the UTBIOME effort
Kerry Kinney
Dr. Kinney is a Professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. Her cross disciplinary research in environmental engineering and molecular biology centers on the investigation of microorganisms and pollutants in natural and engineered systems. Most recently, her research group has been examining the microbiome and contaminants present in a range of indoor environments including schools and homes. Her research team also develops treatment technologies for municipal and industrial wastewaters. Dr. Kinney is Faculty Director of the GLUE (Graduates Linked to Undergraduates in Engineering) Mentoring Program as well as the Mapping the UTBiome initiative at UT Austin. Dr. Kinney joined the faculty at UT Austin in 1996 after earning her Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Davis. She is currently holder of the L. P. Gilvin Centennial Professorship in Civil Engineering and a member of the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering graduate program at UT Austin.