Dr Xinzhao Tong of the School of Science's, Department of Biological Sciences has secured a key research grant from the 2023 Jiangsu Science and Technology Programme's Fundamental Research Plan. This funding will advance her pioneering work on indoor airborne fungi, their effects on public health, and implications for indoor spaces.
Before joining XJTLU, Dr Tong spent seven years studying indoor microbiomes. Her enthusiasm for exploring indoor environments grew even stronger at XJTLU. She found the campus's expansive basements, full of human activity like dining areas, labs, and parking, particularly intriguing. Some of these spaces with dim, damp, and poorly ventilated conditions piqued her interest to investigate their potential health impacts.
"This research could have wide-reaching effects, touching on public health and much more," says Dr Tong.
"Our main goal is to identify what drives the metabolic activities of airborne fungal communities indoors. Such knowledge lays the groundwork for managing indoor environments. This will inform maintenance, cleaning, and ventilation plans customized for specific buildings," Dr Tong adds.
Her study will assess seasonal changes in active indoor fungi, considering variables such as temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels. This comprehensive lens aims to clarify what fuels indoor fungal growth.
The study findings could influence urban planning and building design in cities with climates similar to Suzhou. This is especially crucial given the growing elderly population and their increased indoor exposure.
With the grant now in place, the project will commence with sample gathering, broadening our scientific understanding of indoor fungi and shedding light on how environmental factors affect their activity. Dr Tong is also recruiting undergraduate students to participate, providing opportunities for a new generation of scientists and problem solvers to be trained in the School of Science at XJTLU.
Editor: Outreach group