About Jessica

Bio

Jessica Green, a TED2010 Fellow and TED2011 Senior Fellow, is an engineer and ecologist who specializes in biodiversity theory and microbial systems. As a professor at both the University of Oregon and the Santa Fe Institute, she is the founding director of the innovative new Biology and the Built Environment (BioBE) Center that bridges biology and architecture. Jessica envisions a future with genomic-driven approaches to architectural design that promote sustainability, human health and well-being. She is currently spearheading efforts to model buildings as complex ecosystems that house trillions of diverse microorganisms interacting with each other, with humans, and with their environment. This framework uses next-generation sequencing technology to characterize the “built environment microbiome” and will offer site-specific design solutions to minimize the spread of infectious disease and maximize building energy efficiency.

Languages

English

TED Conferences

TED Fellows Retreat 2013, TED2013, TEDGlobal 2012, TED2012, TEDGlobal 2011, TED2011, TEDWomen 2010, TED2010

Areas of Expertise

Ecology and Evolution, Microbial Ecology, Environmental Engineering, Theoretical Biology, biodiversity

An idea worth spreading

The view of biodiversity cast by great thinkers such as Linneaus and Darwin is based on the study of plants and animals - organisms visible to the naked eye. Recent advances in our ability to characterize microbial diversity in natural environments have prompted a new era of exploration, one that has radically changed thinking in ecology and evolution. Scientists have moved beyond the limitations of culture-based techniques, and are using genes as a yardstick to quantify the evolutionary relatedness among Earth’s organisms (the ‘Tree of Life’). This molecular perspective shows that most of the genetic diversity on Earth is comprised of microbes - organisms invisible to the naked eye. Researchers have estimated there are more than six billion microbes in the human mouth, comprising more than 600 species. On Earth, the number of individual microbes is thought to be as high as 10^30, with a speculated ten million to one billion species.

I'm passionate about

Biodiversity, microorganisms, math, and roller derby.

Talk to me about

The Tree of Life, the built environment microbiome, visualizing the invisible, metagenomics.

People don't know I'm good at

Roller skating backwards.

Comments & conversations

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Jessica Green
Posted about 1 year ago
Does urban “green” harbor healthier microbes?
Hi Laurel - I would need to research it more but I'm not sure that the evidence so far points to having a higher risk of allergies in the country versus the city. Check out this TED Convo my biological diversity class just hosted http://www.ted.com/conversations/18008/purell_now_bacteri_ell_later.html
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Jessica Green
Posted about 1 year ago
Does urban “green” harbor healthier microbes?
Yes Janielle - spot on. I don't think it's only that we're trying to increase densities in cities. It's my understanding that the rise of megacities is happening whether we like it or not. Laurel you might like this - from the Financial Times http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/a4c94be4-6ad6-11e2-9871-00144feab49a.html#axzz2U2riJMU3
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Jessica Green
Posted about 1 year ago
Does urban “green” harbor healthier microbes?
Do you have ideas about how we might tease apart the different mechanisms at play? If stress hormone levels are reduced by spending time in green spaces - how do we figure out what the cause is? How do we know if it is due to the urban microbiome or, for example, a direct impact on physiology/brain function?
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Jessica Green
Posted about 1 year ago
Does urban “green” harbor healthier microbes?
Great point. We have been thinking about the BioBE Center http://biobe.uoregon.edu/ about the spatial distance of a person's microbial "aura". You are taking this to another level and thinking about the spatial distance of a green space "aura".
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Jessica Green
Posted about 1 year ago
Does urban “green” harbor healthier microbes?
OK so you totally need to check out last year's TED Convo where we cover this (http://www.ted.com/conversations/11577/if_green_roofs_were_mandatory.html). Also today my Biological Diversity Class is talking about rooftop beekeeping http://www.ted.com/conversations/18440/can_urban_beehives_increase_fo.html. Which makes me think .... I wonder how efforts like urban beehives influence the urban microbiome?
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Jessica Green
Posted about 1 year ago
Does urban “green” harbor healthier microbes?
It is my sense after spending time at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation yesterday - http://www.rwjf.org/en/about-rwjf/newsroom/features-and-articles/what-s-next-health.html - that a number of big health care providers across the US are investing in health equity. So I think it would fall into that class of efforts.