Human Health Biodiversity and Microbial Ecology: Strategies to Educate

  • Abstract

    The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) requests SEPA support for the five-year project “Human Health Biodiversity and Microbial Ecology: Strategies to Educate.” The project’s overarching goal is to promote public awareness and deepen understanding of the critical impact of biodiversity on human health with specific attention to the human microbiome and how the diversity of nature’s innovations—chemical anatomical and physiological—are of critical value to biomedical research.

    The three specific aims to achieve this goal are: (1) spotlight emerging research at the intersection of biodiversity and human health by providing the general public students and teachers with engaging opportunities to interact with experts in the field learn about this critical topic in AMNH’s hall and deepen their understanding through resources that extend beyond AMNH’s walls (2) provide information to the public and science cultural institutions that will lead to a better understanding of audiences’ specific interests levels of understanding and gaps in knowledge concerning the connections between biodiversity and human health and (3) contribute critical insights about the design of learning experiences and resources effective in engaging and educating diverse audiences about the relevance of biodiversity to human well-being and giving them the tools to increase their understanding of this topic.

    Specific project components include: a SEPA exhibition element in AMNH’s upcoming exhibit on poison, a smartphone application tour of AMNH permanent exhibition halls through the lens of biodiversity and human health, a series of Conversations with Experts for adults students and teachers based on the Science Cafe format, Museum visitor polling that will contribute to a gap analysis of public knowledge of the topic of biodiversity and human health, and online resources and dissemination.

    External evaluation will help assess the value of all components in increasing public understanding of biodiversity and human health topics as well as provide information to be shared with other informal science institutions. As a leading scientific research and education institution, AMNH is well prepared to use its own expertise in educational programming and exhibitions as well as its research capacity in comparative and molecular biology, phylogenetics, and biodiversity science to work with participating NIH scientists to translate and disseminate the work of NIH and other researchers to broad online and on-site audiences.


Inspired by THE SECRET WORLD INSIDE YOU exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History, a project began to document some of the thousands of microbial species that inhabit New York City. Here are five of their stories.

The organisms featured in this video were all found on PathoMap—a project from Weill Cornell Medical College researcher Chris Mason and colleagues that collected genetic samples from all over public spaces in New York to learn which microbes call the city home.

Check out a Q&A with Chris Mason here: http://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blog…

This video is part of #MicrobeWeek, when the Museum is teaming up with a trio of awesome science shows—Science Friday, BrainCraft, and Gross Science—to feature new YouTube videos and other content devoted to microscopic organisms and inspired by THE SECRET WORLD INSIDE YOU exhibition.

This Valentine’s Day, share more than your love – share your microbiome!

For more on microbes, visit The Secret World Inside You today, open now through August 14, 2016: http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/the-s…

Generous support for The Secret World Inside You and its educational resources have been provided by the Paul and Irma Milstein Foundation and the Milstein Family.

The Secret World Inside You is proudly supported by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

The Secret World Inside You is supported by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Associated SEPA Project(s)