How can we create sustainable cities and healthier buildings—including classrooms, hospitals, offices, and homes—by studying microbes? TED Senior Fellow Jessica Green explains how in visually rich talks that chart the frontier of bio-inspired design. She examines microorganisms to touch on deeper questions about humanity: What does it mean to be an individual? Where does your identity begin, and where does it end?
Jessica Green is a world renowned scientist inspiring people to think about bacteria in entirely new ways. An Alec and Kay Keith Professor of Biology at the University of Oregon and professor at the Santa Fe Institute, Green is helping us see how the microbial blueprint of our bodies, homes, cities, and forests impacts our world, and our future. As co-founder and CTO of Phylagen, a DNA data harvesting and analytics company, Green envisions a future for urban design that promotes sustainability, human health, and well-being.
Green is currently spearheading efforts to model urban spaces as complex ecosystems that house trillions of diverse microorganisms interacting with each other, with humans, and with their environment. She calls it the “built environment microbiome.” As founding director of the Biology and the Built Environment (BioBE) Center, she is working with architects and engineers to advance our understanding of how microbial communities assemble, interact, evolve, and influence public health. In addition, she is co-creating a graphic novel about the urban microbiome with graphic designer Steve Green and writer and TED Fellow Anita Doron.
Green is internationally recognized for highly cited publications in Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Her work has been featured in TIME, ABC, NBC, NPR, Forbes, Discover, Scientific American, and The Economist. She is the recipient of the Blaise Pascal International Research Chair, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and a TED Senior Fellowship. She earned an M.S. in Civil/Environmental Engineering and Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering, both at the University of California, Berkeley.
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