Bio & Life Sciences

Biomimicry Enters Academic Mainstream with ASU Center

Scientists and inventors have long turned to nature for inspiration.

Scientists and inventors have long turned to nature for inspiration.

Arizona State University will launch a new Biomimicry Center devoted to the research and development of initiatives that use nature’s own time-tested strategies to tackle our biggest sustainability challenges.

A joint venture of ASU and Biomimicry 3.8, the Biomimicry Center will kick off March 3 with an interactive symposium of lectures, discussion, and hands-on activities at ASU’s Tempe campus. The center’s aim is to bring together the expertise of a wide range of disciplines—including biology, chemistry, engineering, business, material science, psychology, design, and architecture—to create a new multipronged approach to sustainability.

“Biomimicry thinking is a skill set for 21st century careers,” Biomimicry Center co-director Prasad Boradkar said in a statement. “It allows professionals in any field to contribute to sustainable solutions through systems-thinking, creativity, and interdisciplinary collaboration.” Boradkar, who is a professor at ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, will head the center with Biomimicry 3.8’s Dayna Baumeister. Baumeister founded Biomimcry 3.8 in 2005 with Janine Benyus, the science writer credited with popularizing the term.

The Biomimicry Center will also coordinate curricula for ASU students, offering the first-ever master’s of science and graduate certificate programs in biomimicry, both to be completed online. An on-campus master’s program is under development.

Scientists and inventors have long turned to nature for inspiration (planes of course mimic birds, and Velcro copies burr), but it is only recently that biomimicry has started to gain traction as a real discipline to be incorporated into interdisciplinary research.

Next month’s Techonomy Bio conference will also take a look at how bio-inspiration is changing our processes. The “Bio at the Scale of Architecture” session will explore how people are using biology in building—creating whole new components that range from bricks to insulation. “The Future of F&B” will discuss how tech, bio, agronomy, and chemistry are coming together to solve local, regional, and global food challenges by emulating and improving upon the Earth’s natural processes.

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