University of Oregon


You are your microbes


Karen Guillemin and Jessica Green have teamed with a pair of designers and illustrators from a German company to create an instructional video suitable for teachers to use in developing lesson plans. The educational production “You are your microbes” is part of TED Ed Lessons for Sharing ( ). TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It began in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment and Design.


Karen Guillemin and Green also are leaders in the UO’s Microbial Ecology and Theory of Animals Center for Systems Biology (META CSB), a national research center launched in the fall with funding from the National Institutes of Health. Green, who also is a TED fellow and member of the UO’s Institute of Ecology and Evolution, said that she realized the TED Ed program would be “an ideal venue for our META CSB team to pursue educational outreach about the microbiome. I contacted TED with a proposed lesson that Karen and I put together,” Green said. “They liked the proposal and things took off from that point.”


TED paired Guillemin, also a researcher in the Institute of Molecular Biology, and Green with motion designer Paula Spagnoletti and illustrator Celine Keller, co-owners of in Frankfurt, Germany, to complete the project. The new video is hosted by YouTube and available on the TED Ed website. It runs three minutes, 46 seconds.


“It was a fun opportunity to share some of our expertise for a wider audience, especially as a way to highlight some of the ideas we’re working with in the new META center,” Guillemin said. “I’d see this as useful both for beginning microbiology students as an introduction into an exciting field and also for a lay audience interested in microbiome research, which has been in the news a lot lately.”


Green agreed: “Creating with Karen is fun. It is delightful to work with a colleague who is both internationally recognized in microbiology and also highly imaginative. The TED-Ed team made the process very streamlined. I was impressed with how quickly the animators brought the ideas to life.”


TED lessons are promoted under the mantra “flip this video” for teachers, who are encouraged to turn any video in the series into a customized lesson that can be assigned to students or shared more widely. Teachers can add context, questions and follow-up suggestions to tap the various ways that children learn.


May 8, 2013





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