Ever wonder how scientists analyze the microbiome of human and animal guts, or of sourdough starters and other cultured foods? We take a deep dive into the purpose and methods of microbial ecology with Dr. Erin McKenny following her keynote presentation. Whether or not you’re a trained scientist, you’ll learn some fascinating details about human and microbial cultures from this discussion, and if you have a super sniffer, you may be inspired to become a ‘sourdough sommelier.’

Dr. Erin McKenney studies how microbial communities form over time and how they adapt to their environments. Over the past 8 years she has collected fecal samples from over 140 animals belonging to 15 species housed at 4 different zoos, to investigate the effects of host diet and lineage. More recently, she has expanded her research to sourdough and other fermented foods. Microbial cultures lie at the heart of human cultures, and fermented foods provide accessible systems for studying microbiology and nutrition without formal laboratory equipment. By combining citizen science and global collaborations, Erin brings research into the classroom to empower students of all ages.

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