The last of the Bicocca Sampling Day events, organised by Biome Research in collaboration with Vivaio Bicocca, which saw its participants turn into ‘researchers for a day’ with the aim of collecting samples of the environmental microbiota in the city of Milan, focusing on the Bicocca University area, has come to an end. The event was proposed and organised by Antonia Bruno, Giulia Ghisleni, Sara Fumagalli, Alice Armanni, Andrea Franzetti and Asia Rosatelli.

The work took place over four days between June 2023 and March 2024 with the collection of more than 2,300 samples that, once analysed, will provide an insight into the microbiological landscape of Bicocca’s open spaces and then compare them and learn about the effects of the green and sustainable regeneration being implemented in the district. This required a great deal of effort on the part of the 76 participants who came to the event, taking care not to contaminate the samples and carefully compiling the metadata for the final analysis.

The final day of the Bicocca Sampling Day took place on 27 March 2024 and was attended by 46 participants, all students from Bachelor’s and Master’s degree courses belonging to the Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences of the University of Milan-Bicocca, with more than 600 samples collected. The students expressed enormous interest in the topic and requested future repetitions of the event, appreciating the opportunity to participate first-hand in one of the earliest stages of scientific research.

The metadata compilation activity used KoboToolbox, a free open source platform for data collection, visualisation and management. KoboToolbox was created by a non-profit organisation and supports the generation of shared and public data. Its functionality was instrumental in integrating the data collected by each participant via their personal mobile phone and in enhancing the theme of sharing scientific data.

In addition to the great support that the volunteers gave to the study, a great awareness emerged of the role that the microbiota has in determining the health of humans and urban environments, and the focus on biodiversity in all its forms was emphasised. The Bicocca Sampling Day also received great approval from other organisations including the Bicocca Nursery, the central location of the event, which also supported and publicised Sampling Day on its social channels.