Architectural biologist to give 2017 Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture

Thursday, January 19, 2017

LAWRENCE — TED Senior Fellow Jessica Green will deliver the Kenneth A. Spencer Memorial Lecture at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at The Commons in Spooner Hall. Her talk, “The Hidden City: Landscape, Urban Design, and the Microbial Universe,” will explore the relationship between sustainable built environments and the study of microbes. 

Green, an architectural biologist, has made a career of inspiring people to develop a new understanding of bacteria. Through her multidisciplinary work with microbes, she asks, “What does it mean to be an individual? Where does your identity begin, and where does it end?”

With degrees in civil/environmental engineering and nuclear engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, Green is interested in the role of microorganisms in the relationship between humans and built environments. Through the Biology and the Built Environment Center, which she founded, she works with architects and engineers to develop a richer understanding of the activity of microbial communities. The center seeks to model the “built environment microbiome” of urban areas to “promote sustainability, human health and well-being.”

Green is an Alec and Kay Keith Professor of Biology at the University of Oregon and professor at the Santa Fe Institute. She is a TED Senior Fellow, the recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and co-founder and CTO of Phylagen, a DNA data harvesting and analytics company. Additionally, she is writing a graphic novel about the urban microbiome with graphic designer Steve Green and writer Anita Doron.

The Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture is hosted by The Commons annually to invite seminal figures, whose work applies across disciplines, to address the University of Kansas and regional community. In recent years, the lecture series has been delivered by comedian Andy Borowitz, writer/activist Margaret Atwood and writer/historian Rebecca Solnit.

The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required. A second event at 10 a.m. Feb. 9, Coffee @ The Commons, will feature a conversation with Green about the Future University.

Anyone needing special accommodations may contact The Commons staff for assistance.