Microbial Masterpieces

Erica Gardner (School for Environment and Sustainability; College of Engineering), Anna Urso (School for Environment and Sustainability), Bruna IunesSanches (A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning)

Microbial Masterpieces is a continuously evolving project devoted to helping people understand the importance of the microbial world, conceived in response to Scientists’ warning to humanity: microorganisms and climate change, by Cavicchioli et al. We are funded by the Experiments in Translation Grant.

Microorganisms are a million times smaller than humans, invisible to the naked eye, and yet, collectively, they have a powerful influence on global biogeochemical cycles. These scales are so different from the scales at which humans operate, that it is incredibly difficult to understand and appreciate them in the same way we appreciate charismatic megafauna like sea turtles and elephant.

To address this problem, we planned to transform microorganisms and microbial ecosystems into dynamic, charismatic entities by constructing a giant Winogradsky panel. We furthermore hoped to render this panel tangible to the visually-impaired community by 3D-printing tactile maps.