Sunday, June 12, 2011

Opening up one’s eyes to other fields (cross-posting from #microBEnet)

Cross-posting this: Opening up one’s eyes to other fields which I posted originally on the microBEnet blog.

I spend most of my time working on biology.  I like to think I cover lots of breadth within biology and I probably do - microbes, evolution, ecology, human health, pathogens, symbioses, forensics, genomics, bioinformatics, and more.  But nothing like really looking at other fields to realize how narrowly focused one is.

And that is what has happened to me since I took on the "microBEnet" project trying to foster communications and collaborations on microbiology of the built environment. I now pay much more attention to anything that might have a connection to "Building Science" in one way or another.  Not only did I just go to an Indoor Air meeting, but I keep discovering more and more stuff right near home that I was not aware of before.  For example - I just got sent this news link from Aaron Darling in my lab: UC Davis News & Information :: History of sciences in architecture subject of Mellon Foundation winner's study.  Previously, I would definitely not have been paying much attention to architecture and history of science.  But now seeing other people at UC Davis working on the Built Environment just makes me think about how I can build connections with them and talk to them about buildings (and other built environments) and possibly, one day, about the microbes that are in them.

Which brings me to another story.  At the Indoor Air meeting earlier in the week in Austin, Texas, when heading to the conference center I got into a conversation with someone looking for the registration desk.  After showing her where to go she asked where I was from and I said "UC Davis."  And it turns out - she was too.  Turns out, this was Deborah Bennett, who I had heard mentioned the evening before but had not heard the whole name.  I just knew someone else at the meeting was from Davis.   Deborah is at the UC Davis School of Public Health and works on some really interesting stuff.  And since UC Davis is so big (some 2500 or so faculty I think) - it is not always easy or simple to find people even if you might have a connection to them.

So anyway, just a little commentary on how I find it fascinating to see for the first what was in a way right before my eyes.

1 comment:

  1. Here's an interesting biology-architecture connection.

    Arthur Kornberg (they guy who won the 1959 Nobel for working out the chemistry of DNA replication) had three sons; the older two, Roger and Thomas are both eminent biologists; Roger won his own Nobel prize in 2006, and Thomas discovered DNA polymerase II and III.

    Arthur's youngest son, Kenneth, is an architect specializing in research buildings. We have three of his buildings here at Davis, including Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Building. Caltech has eight of his buildings. The Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle was also designed by his firm. They've also done extensive work for Pfizer, including master plans and eight research facilities.

    In the course of any normal career in biological science, one is more likely than not to spend part of it working in a facility designed by Kenneth Kornberg.

    Anyway, Wikipedia's cabal of deletionist jerks have removed Kenneth Kornberg's page because he's supposedly "not important." That ought to be remedied. Research buildings are functional places, often commissioned by institutions under enormous pressure to maximize impact of grant money, and so they often get the short shrift among people who critique architecture for their lack of purely aesthetic baubles. Unlike, say, Frank Gehry's contrivances.


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