PS&S brings to the partnership practical expertise on the design and construction of the built environment.

The Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Precision Microbiome Engineering (PreMiEr) is excited to announce a new industry partnership with PS&S, an architectural and engineering firm based in Warren, NJ.

Led by Duke University in Durham, NC, the PreMiEr ERC brings together diverse and talented researchers from five of North Carolina’s top universities, including North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina State University in Raleigh, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) are funded by the National Science Foundation to address grand challenges, develop new areas of research, and turn novel ideas from universities into useful solutions for society. Through collaboration with their academic peers, industry partners are critical to the success of ERCs.

In the United States, people can spend 95% of their lives in the “built environment” – indoor spaces such as homes, workplaces, hospitals, vehicles, shopping malls, and schools. All of these places contain unique communities of microbes called “microbiomes” that include bacteria, fungi, and viruses. While some of these microbes might cause disease, others could be beneficial to the people around them. The goal of PreMiEr is to study, understand, and ultimately engineer the microbiomes within human-built spaces to improve the health of people living and working there. A significant part of this mission entails identifying design or construction factors that promote beneficial microbes and stop harmful ones.

PS&S, a national firm specializing in architecture, engineering, design, and environmental and surveying consulting services noted an interest in this topic amongst their client base – spurred in part by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a cutting-edge company that stays abreast of the latest research, PS&S saw a partnership with PreMiEr as an opportunity to participate in this new field and to learn about the science as it develops.

PS&S brings to the partnership practical expertise on the design and construction of the built environment. Claudia Gunsch, director of the PreMiEr Center and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke, is enthusiastic about the collaboration. “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with PS&S,” Gunsch said. “Their insights into the real-world challenges facing building design and the relationship to microbiomes will only help our researchers in creating solutions that will bring our shared vision of healthier spaces to fruition.”

John Sartor, President and CEO of PS&S, is equally excited of the partnership. “PS&S is extremely pleased to participate with the PreMiEr ERC team. We pride ourselves in bringing current research and technology to our employees and our clients; the PreMiEr ERC initiative will allow us to stay at the cutting edge of study of the ‘built’ environment with an eye towards improving and protecting human health. This has always been an important part of the design and operation of the places we live, work, and play and is particularly important following the pandemic. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity!”

PS&S will also strengthen the ERC by informing PreMiEr leaders and scholars of current concerns, regulations, and needs within the industry, by advising PreMiEr educators about the skills required for future workers to flourish, and through collaborations that design and bring to market solutions to tackle the global issue of human health in the indoor environment.