Over the last 6 months, our team has been working hard behind the scenes to ready ourselves for scaling up the Wild Life of Our Homes project – 1000+ homes here we come!

If you’ve volunteered for the study sometime in the last year, you will receive an email VERY SOON with instructions for confirming your address. We’ll then send you a microbe home-sampling kit and details about an accompanying Online Home Questionnaire.

In the meantime, we wanted to share what we’ve been doing these last few months to prepare for the big home sampling push:

We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the best ways to share Wild Life of Our Homes results with you. We have a lot of exciting ideas in the works about how to make the project’s results interactive, meaningful and personal, and today you can take a sneak peek. Here’s a screenshot of the results from one participant’s pillowcase!

A screenshot of one home's pillow case results.

Each slice of the pie represents a different family (a related group) of microbes, and each color represents the environment where each family of microbes is most likely to be found. Although our previews are just static images, when you log into the project site to access your personal results, you’ll be able to scroll around the pie to see the different families represented in the sample, their relative abundance, and their most likely environmental source. On a single screen, you’ll be able to compare and contrast the microbes found in each sampling location of your home.

You will be able to compare the microbes found in different locations in your home.

We’ve also streamlined the process for you to share information about your home, it’s surroundings and inhabitants (human, animal and vegetable) by implementing a secure, online Home Questionnaire. These data are critically important as they will help us interpret the patterns of microbes we observe. We, therefore, tried to make the process of contributing that information as easy, secure and painless as possible!

We’ve sent kits to a small batch of you (about 200 homes) – Many thanks to those of you who returned your kits! They are safe and sound in our freezers awaiting shipment to the Fierer Lab in Colorado for DNA analysis.  This small batch helped us work out a few kinks in our workflow of shipping, receiving and prepping samples for DNA analysis.

To ease some of our logistical pains, our IT team built a nifty system for barcoding your samples. Not only will we be able to easily scan and track your samples, the barcoding system will allow us to update you on the status of your samples and results through email and the personal web interface you see after logging into the project site.

In the coming weeks, we’ll have a lot more to say about Wild Life of Our Homes. Stay tuned!