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jo-handelsmanUT faculty, staff, and students are invited to meet Jo Handelsman, associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, on Monday.

Handelsman will be on campus to discuss “The National Microbiome Initiative: Opportunities for Research and Policy” at 3:30 p.m. in Room 32 of the Alumni Memorial Building.

“Our campus is very fortunate she’s making time to come give this talk and meet with students and faculty,” said Alison Buchan, UT professor of microbiology.

The new National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) is a collaborative effort between federal agencies and private-sector stakeholders to foster the integrated study of microbiomes across different ecosystems. Microbiomes are an important part of our ecosystem and help maintain healthy function of diverse ecosystems that influence human health, climate change, food security, and other factors.

In her talk, Handelsman will discuss the year-long fact-finding process collaborators on the NMI will go through to advance the understanding of microbiome behavior and enable protection and restoration of healthy microbiome functions.

She will expand on the goals of the NMI, which include supporting interdisciplinary research, developing platform technologies to share the data, and expanding the microbiome workforce through citizen science, public engagement, and educational opportunities.

Handelsman is a professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale University. Her research focus and goal is to make an impact in both science and education and draws on evidence-based studies to improve undergraduate science teaching by creating a toolbox focused on active learning, mentoring, and classroom diversity.

She is the recipient of the 2011 American Society for Microbiology DC White Research and Mentoring Award. The award, named after DC White, a former faculty member in the Department of Microbiology at UT, recognizes distinguished accomplishments in interdisciplinary research and mentoring in microbiology.