Forecasting Pathogenic Microbial Load

The Challenge

Microbes (viruses, bacteria, and fungi) are both the culprit behind humanitarian/monetary loss and at the forefront of innovative solutions as we enter an unprecedented era of warming climate, global interconnectedness, and food insecurity. Mitigative solutions and reactionary techniques are more costly and inhibit innovation when the data exists to support predictive solutions! What we lack is dynamic predictive modeling that incorporates climactic regimes, duration, species morphology, soil characteristics, management practices, and recent and historical microbial diversity and load (colony forming units) indicators.


Our ultimate goal is for extension services and farmers across the globe, to have access to predictive risk management intelligence that can guide preventative treatments, measures, and strategies to ensure food and crop security. Specifically, our goal for this challenge is to identify critical risk thresholds in pathogenicity and gain external and interdisciplinary insight from the Port Association, CERN and additional partnering organizations towards a structural basis and prototype for a model forecasting pathogenic microbial load (colony forming units per crop) thresholds based upon data from a case study. From this one could predict critical intervention points for stakeholders (farmers, agricultural education, extension recommendations and practices) based upon the magnitude of risk.  


Project Team

Aleyna Adamson

Dagmar Wikarska

Diego Avila

Diego is a materials engineer from Guatemala currently residing in Munich, Germany. He participated in THE Port 2020 and was in Pier 88, dealing with the subject of human trafficking and trying to contribute on the programming side of the project. For Diego, THE Port hackathon has represented a unique opportunity to bring a new perspective to humanitarian issues. Having people from different backgrounds and different cultures to work on SDG goals is a refreshing approach to global problems. In his second year at the Port, he hopes he can be more proactive, meet a bunch of cool people and provide better insight gained through experience.

Jinen Setpal

Kris Petterson

Kris is a PhD student of plant and microbial ecology within the Sharma Lab at Texas Tech University. She is investigating the endophytic microbial ecology of rare plants as it relates to function and disjunct and/or intercontinental distribution. This Fall, she was awarded the Smithsonian graduate research fellowship and will collaborate with the SERC's Microbial Ecology Lab to delineate the role of endofungal bacteria in nitrogen metabolism, mycorrhizal fungi development, and in germination of a rare terrestrial orchid host. She is active in and passionate about project-based teaching and learning techniques and interdepartmental collaboration in research and throughout the peer review process. You can follow her informative microbial meme account "what_microbe_are_you" on instagram for a nerdy chuckle. Kris was the challenge and framework generator behind GloMiMo.

Mohammad Moosajee

Mohammad is an experienced fellow with a demonstrated history of working in the public policy industry. He is a strong believer in advocating for Renewable Energy as he has experienced consequences of climate change. He is initiating an experimental start-up in West Texas/Panhandle Region to help farmers switch their mills & cotton gins to renewable energy source. Mohammad is also doing research on Quantum Mechanics and Particle Entanglement, looking for ways to fabricate quantum computer cheap and less complex. He loves to travel and explore new places, hike mountains, and camping.

Nikita Divay

Nikos Chrysogelos

Nikos is an electrical engineer currently working and residing in Zurich at a drone start-up specialized for firefighters. His background is energy systems and electronics while he has worked for research institutes, private corporations and has founded a smart-meter start-up with focus in energy efficiency. In the past years he has been involved and volunteered for NGOs in Greece, Kenya and Nepal. He is passionate about clean energy, environmental problems and the refugee crisis in Europe. During his free time you can find him playing team sports, wandering in the mountains, watching/playing (impro) theatre or discussing about politics.

Steffen Ludwig

I’m a German Master’s student in the field of particle physics. I specialized in analysis with Deep Learning, Hadron Collider Physics, Astroparticle Physics and Particle Detectors, after I finished my degree in teaching. I’m dedicated to humanitarian projects to leave this world a little better than I found it. I’m working as an IT administrator for a German scout organization in my spare time, I’m fluent in Python and C++, have experience in DevOps as well as project leading and management.

Viraf Mehta

Viraf is a postdoc in theoretical physics and has worked at the intersections of particle physics, astrophysics, mathematical physics and statistics/machine learning with string theory. At the moment he's thinking a lot about representation in high energy physics and what the unwritten rules are for who is allowed to be a theorist. He's also a drummer and did play the second least covid-friendly sport: squash. Viraf's wife works for the UN in New York and strives for the emancipation of all oppressed peoples, his Mother is the retired headteacher of an all-Muslim-girls high school in England, his older sister, who also has a PhD (molecular biology), is an all-girls high school science teacher and Viraf's younger sister is a project manager who has sang with the Who.