Rising junior Amy Spens’ research involves objects so mundane you’re probably touching one right now — yet each hosts a whole microscopic world that most of us will never see. Spens is exploring the microbial jungle found on computer mice in a summer research project with Assistant Professor of Biology Vladimir Douhovnikoff.
To conduct her research, Spens is analyzing 400 samples that Douhovnikoff collected over the course of a year from Simmons College library computer mice during his former teaching position there. Without human contact, the surfaces would contain no bacteria at all, so her research investigates the direct impact of human practices on microbial transmission between inanimate surfaces and the environment at large. “It becomes a question of public health and culture,” Spens explained.