Microbiome Stewardship

Healthy microbial ecosystems are necessary for the health of humans, other animals, and plants. Evidence is accumulating that microbial ecosystems are being damaged through many practices of modern life: pollution, overuse of antibiotics, use of pesticides and other biocidals in agriculture, etc. In spite of this, there are no protections for microbial ecosystems in policy or law in any jurisdiction on the planet. The DSP lab is collaborating with researchers across Canada and internationally to examine the evidence for human practices being responsible for adverse health outcomes via damage to microbial ecosystems, and to work towards policies to protect them. Our interests are highly interdisciplinary and include the following social science and humanities-oriented topics:

  • Social equity issues raised by considering the role of microbiomes in human health
  • The role of gender in microbiome research
  • Development of the concept of stewardship in the context of microbiomes
  • Bringing awareness of microbiomes into conservation efforts
  • The impact of immigration on human microbiomes and associated health outcomes
  • Changing understandings of what it means to be human when considering microbes associated with the healthy human body
  • Ethical implications of altered microbiomes for future generations
  • Relational obligations of one person’s microbiome affecting those of people around them

The lab is accepting applications at post-doctoral, graduate, and undergraduate levels to conduct research on these and other topics relating to microbiome stewardship.