Diego Cervo, istockphoto.com

Although scientists have long studied outdoor ecosystems such as swamps or rainforests, they know little about the equally complex ecosystems where people now spend the bulk of their time: indoors. To that end, the Sloan Foundation wants to foster a scientific field to better understand the indoor interactions of light, building materials, plants, microorganisms, and people as ecosystems.

SFI External Professor Jessica Green will direct the new Center for the Biological Ecology of Built Environments, funded by a $1.8 million grant to the University of Oregon from the Sloan Foundation. 

The center will form an interdisciplinary team of researchers to study how architecture, health, and ecology interact in built environments. It also will look at how "green" building design can affect global climate change and how human health is affected by both pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms inside buildings.

"Part of our goal is to train architects to not only think about buildings in terms of design but also about the biology of buildings, or how the design and operation of a building can impact human life," says Jessica. "Similarly, we want to train biologists to think more broadly about ecological ecosystems to go beyond terrestrial or marine systems."

See also: University of Oregon news release