Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Microbiology of the Built Environment

The goal of the Microbiology of the Built Environment program is to grow a new field of scientific inquiry. Grant-making began in 2004 and will end in 2017. 

The program’s objectives are as follows:

  1. To push the research frontier and to educate a small leadership cohort through a multidisciplinary, university-based Biology and the Built Environment Center at the University of Oregon, led by Jessica Green and Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg.
  2. To build a national, multidisciplinary community by establishing a network of scientists, engineers, and architects through the Microbiology of the Built Environment Network at the University of California, Davis, led by Jonathan Eisen;
  3. To improve the cohesiveness of the community and its ability to communicate internally and externally through the development of data tools and repositories: QIIME and QIITA at the University of California, San Diego, led by Rob Knight, VAMPS at the Marine Biological Laboratory, led by Mitch Sogin, and the fungal database UNITE at the University of Tartu, Estonia, led by Urmas Kõljalg.
  4. To demonstrate the excitement and value of the field by supporting a small number of research targets of opportunity. See special issue of Microbiome on the microbiology of the built environment featuring the work of many Sloan grantees.
  5. To convince traditional U.S. government funding agencies to include research on the built environment in their research plans by developing a compelling, widely accepted research agenda. See the National Academies study Microbiomes of the Built Environment:  From Research to Application.

For a complete list of Sloan grants in this program area, see

For a mini-review of scientific findings, see “What Have We Learned About the Microbiomes of Indoor Environments” by Sloan grantee Brent Stephens, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL. 

Program Director:
Paula Olsiewski Bio