Microbes and Microbiota: Benefits and Risks

Second of Five Reasons to Follow SRA

Connect with SRA Regional Organizations (ROs) around the world to learn more about risks facing people in your community and beyond.

The second of five reasons to follow Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) is its support of Regional Organizations (ROs) around the world. ROs offer opportunities to learn about risk and network with researchers and risk practitioners. ROs are listed at the end of this blog. Many RO offerings are free and open to the public.


The Australia/New Zealand RO offers an annual two-day conference, this year on Risk Prisms.

Risk Prisms – Exploring the Multifaceted Nature of Risk


In the field of optics, a prism is a transparent object with at least two angled sides that break up white light into its constituent colors. In the same way that a single beam of light is in reality made up of different colors, the system-based approach to risk analysis proposes that risk is likewise composed of different elements. These individual elements in turn are combined into a range of subsets, each associated with a different range of probabilities. 'Refracting' risk requires at least two different disciples offering at least two different angles or perspectives of the same risk. Indeed, bringing together more than two disciples can potentially offer even richer insights into the complexity of risk. For more information, click here.

For more than 6 years, the Australia/New Zealand and Upstate NY ROs have partnered on joint projects. The topic for a continuing joint project is quite controversial in the media around the world: benefits and risks of the natural microbiota of raw milks. The 2017 webinar series podcasts for the project are available for SRA members at the SRA website. (Participation in all SRA webinars is free, but access to podcasts after the webinars conclude is a members-only benefit.) Slide sets for the webinar series are available here.

Upstate NY SRA has offered events free and open to the public since its founding in 2005. For more information on the diverse topics and events convened in upstate NY, click here. To view a video introducing Upstate NY SRA and its leaders in a previous blog, click here.

The fall 2018 event sponsored by Upstate NY SRA features two distinguished Cornell University professors, Rodney Dietert and Katherine McComas.


The event will begin with a presentation by Dr. Dietert, an immunotoxicologist and author, on opportunities for more holistic ecological approaches to infant health based on advances in knowledge of our microbial partners in health, the microbiota, and their genes, the microbiome. His emphasis will include microbes transmitted from the mother, particularly in breastmilk, that function to protect against rather than cause illness.


Dr. McComas, President-Elect of SRA and Risk Analysis journal Area Editor for Risk Communication, will then offer her perspective as a rapporteur and risk scholar. She will consider potential impacts of the research on the microbiota for risk practitioners who assess, communicate, and manage risks.

A pressing risk management issue of global significance that motivated this joint project is the loss of benefits of the milk microbiota for preterm and ill infants when human milk banks provide pasteurized donor milk to infants whose mothers cannot breastfeed. The audience will join the speakers in deliberations of risks and benefits at the event.

Two additional RO partners on the microbiota of raw milks joint project are New England and the UK. A future blog will describe related events for the joint project that will be offered later this fall.

The partnering ROs look forward to learning more about the evidence for benefits and risks of the microbiota of raw milks. With deliberation of the evidence, the challenges of communicating risk with a balance in emotionality, fairness, and trust, the principles of risk communication, can be addressed more effectively worldwide on the controversial issues and questionable assumptions regarding pasteurization of milks.

Explore the links in the appended list of ROs to learn more about their offerings. For readers in the upstate NY region, non-members and SRA members are all welcome at the fall event in Ithaca, NY. It is free and open to the public.

2018 Upstate NY SRA event convenes on
Tuesday, October 23rd (4:30 - 6 pm) at
Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Comments and questions are welcome on this blog. Feel free to follow the joint project on Facebook and Twitter.

SRA ROs around the World

Australia/New Zealand
Contact: Naomi Cogger

Contact: Frederic Bouder

Canada - Saint-Laurent
Contact: Gaëlle Triffault-Bouchet

Contact: Chongfu Huang

Contact: Shady Noureldin

Contact: Margot Kuttschreuter

Contact: Hideya Kubo

Contact: Dong-Chun Shin

Latin America
Contact: Rosa María Flores

Contact: Marja Ylönen

Contact: Valery Lesnykh

Contact: Hwa-Lung Yu

Ukraine - Kiev
Contact: Naum Borodyanskiy

United Kingdom - London
Contact: Julie Barnett

United States

Chicago Regional
Contact: Carole Braverman

Eastern Washington
Contact: Jim Dukelow

Metro NY/NJ/CT
Contact: Rao Kolluru

National Capital Area
District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia
Contact: Sally M. Kane

New England
Contact: Sonja Sax

Southwestern and Central Ohio,
Northern Kentucky
Contact: Stephanie Hines

Contact: Eileen Mahoney

Research Triangle
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill
and surrounding region
Contact: Audrey Turley

Rocky Mountain
Contact: Susan Flack

Southern California
Contact: Mary McDaniel

Upstate New York
Contact: Peg Coleman