Talk Derby To Me: Jessica Green On Microbes & Humanity At The Roller Rink
The documentary (a partnership between researchers at the Biology and Built Environment Center and filmmaker Tristan Wheelock) was recently featured in The L.A. Times. As Green tells the paper, studying the transmission of microbes between derby girls could help us understand how microbes transfer between individuals. She says that as of now, we do not fully understand if our microbial makeup is predetermined from birth, or whether we acquire them from the people and things that we touch. And, considering the documentary says "90 per cent of what you think of as you—is actually microbes," understanding how they work and how we get them is a crucial part of understanding what it means to be human.
Green, who skated with the Emerald City Roller Girls for several years, saw a connection between her work on microbes and the roller derby community. While playing on the Flat Track Furies, she says she was "thinking a lot about the way that being in community with a group of people affected your health and well-being." She adds: "I wondered about the things we were sharing that you couldn’t see." She also says her research is trying to determine if we pass microbes around solely through skin-to-skin contact, or through contact with other objects. Roller derby seemed like a perfect fit for the research given that the skaters are constantly crashing into other people and other objects during each bout. In projects like this, and in her mind-bending talks, Green exposes us to a world of things we never see—and shows us how these invisible organisms are so important to the way we understand ourselves and the world around us.