The skin is the largest organ of our body, and provides suitable microenvironments for billions of microorganisms. As such, it is the acts as the first line of defense: a mechanical barrier, and a host for protective microbes. Human skin is initially colonized by microorganisms at birth and slowly transforms into a highly diverse environment. In fact, these billions of microorganisms on our skin build one of the three types of relationships with humans: mutualistic, commensal, and parasitic. The majority of microorganisms that reside on the skin are either mutually beneficial or harmless, and contribute to the body’s defense against pathogens. However, our skin microbiome is affected by changing external environments, daily lifestyle and cosmetic products. As a result, some beneficial relationships between humans and skin microorganisms have been disrupted. Therefore, our project aims to understand, alter, and enhance these relationships to re-establish and maintain beneficial skin microbes. We propose a probiotic fabric which would host beneficial microbes, tailored to the user’s skin needs.
Indeed, many skin conditions are not genetic in nature and have been more recently recognized as a result of modern-day soaps and antibacterial products. Encouraging diversity in the skin’s microbial communities and increased exposure to good bacteria could help us restore an optimal skin microbiome.
Youbin Lee, Pratik Jain, Pooja Patel
We aim to reveal the anthropogenic impact on environmental microbiomes.
Microbiomes consist in a set of microorganisms specific to a given environment. These communities can be found in soil, waterways, and even our bodies. Anthropogenic alterations of the environment are leading to climate change and contamination of soils and waters, and these effects can be easily observed on flora and fauna, but its influence on interactions within microbiomes are much more difficult to quantify.
To address this knowledge gap, we made a board game that is both interactive and educational, focused on toxic sites around the world. As the degradation of our microenvironments increases in conjunction with global consumption habits, we encourage our players to consider their role in the ecosystem and the steps they can take to reduce our footprint. By providing basic information about this topic, we hope to provide a new approach for learning and perhaps reimagine how we think about remediation of these sites.
Angel Chen, Nara Daivaa, Joanna Yen
Rete is a passive, hydrogel-based ocean health monitor for studying the coral holobiont. It takes a long exposure snapshot of nutrients and ions in the ocean. Although coral reefs cover less than 0.1% of Earth’s surface, they support more than 30% of total marine biodiversity. Today these natural wonders are in global decline, threatened by the intersecting effects of multiple stressors. Measuring and understanding the relationships between corals and their complex communities of rich and under-explored microbiota may be the best solution to preserve and restore this important coastal ecosystem.
We envision an underwater symbiotic measuring device based on soft robotic hydrogel biosensors that will inform the health of ocean waters by recording its ion flux during a determined period of time. Imagine taking thirty water samples every day for a month, but stored in just one hydrogel that sits biomimetically amongst the coral holobiont.
RETE’s permeable technology allows chemicals to penetrate the device until equilibrium is met. The ions that were present longer will penetrate deeper, however, the ones that change quickly will rarely enter as deep. After one full cycle, the gel component of RETE will be analyzed for all possible ions as a sample using affordable Mass spectrometry. Rete provides a tangible, at scale experience and measurement, both for better understanding the ocean and connecting people to it. Our efforts will establish a new community-based dataset, and open-source, affordable biosensor creation.
Daniella Garcia-Rosales, Arnav Wagh
MEMO explores the possible symbiotic relationship between Electronics and Microorganisms. Fueled by my curiosity of bridging the digital and organic world, I developed a digital platform that allows collaboration with microorganisms. MEMO is the result of early exploration in letting biological organisms alter the genetic code of digital images. The final output of this collaboration falls into a category that can be called - BioGlitchArt.
Pedro G.C. Oliveira
DIETARY GUARDIAN COLLECTIVE
Recent research suggests that human health is closely linked to the gut microbiome. Not only do disruptions in the gut microbiome correlate with grave states such as obesity or Crohn's disease, but variations in gut microbiota have been shown to influence more subtle characteristics such as mood.
Our daily diet choices can influence the state of our gut microbiome. Fermented foods - such as yogurt and kimchi - and probiotic supplements contain live bacteria that can persist in the gut. Additionally, some foods will influence the gut microbiome by selecting for some species already present: these are prebiotic foods.
We’ve designed an interface that aims to reveal information how prebiotic and probiotic foods might influence your well being, and suggests combinations of foods that fulfill those goals.
Jason Charles, Chenghao Shen, Junwoo Moon