Biomimicry 3.8 Institute: April 2013 Newsletter

Jay Owen Sustainability News, Nature/Biomimicry






Biomimicry 3.8 Institute Newsletter – April 2013


Award-winning Designer Neri Oxman to Speak at Summit & Global Conference

NeriOxmanWe’re pleased to announce that Neri Oxman will give the Saturday morning keynote presentation at the 7th annual Biomimicry Education Summit and inaugural Global Conference in Boston this coming June. Oxman is an award-winning designer, architect, and assistant professor at the MIT Media Lab, where she directs theMediated Matter design research group. Oxman will speak on “material ecology,” a term she coined to describe the study and design of products and processes that combine digital fabrication with design principles from nature.

The Education Summit and Global Conference will be held June 21-23 on the waterfront campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston. The event expands upon the Institute’s annual Education Summit, offering inspiring plenary presentations in the morning with concurrent afternoon breakout sessions designed specifically for educators, practitioners, and those simply interested in exploring how biomimicry can inform innovation across a multitude of disciplines.

Learn more about the keynote and plenary speakers online, where you can also browse the afternoon breakout session schedule and register to attend.


Call for Nominations: The Best of Biomimicry

butterfly_scales_95670295_sm_v2 2Do you know an educator, designer, businessperson, or leader in your community who stands out for their commitment to promoting the practice of biomimicry? We are issuing a call for nominations for several awards to be presented at our Biomimicry Education Summit and Global Conference in Boston this June.

The awards recognize the achievements of professionals with proven records in the application of biomimicry to their classrooms, work, businesses, or communities. Nominees should have extraordinary, unique, or pioneering contributions to excellence in biomimicry.

Nominations are being accepted for the following categories: (1) Excellence in Biomimicry Education within a College or University; (2) Excellence in Biomimicry Education within a K-12 or Public Learning Environment; (3) Excellence in Biomimicry within a Business; (4) Excellence in Biomimicry within the Field of Design, and (5) Regional Network Leader of the Year.

To nominate an individual or business/organization, please email a paragraph that includes the nominee’s name, the award category, and highlights of the nominee’s contributions to the practice of biomimicry to [email protected]. The nomination deadline is May 12, 2013. For selection criteria and additional details, see our Awards page.

Introduction to Biomimicry in Education Workshop Offered at Summit

thompson_islandIf you’re an educator excited about biomimicry but not sure how to get started, consider coming to our Introduction to Biomimicry in Education workshop the day before theBiomimicry Education Summit and Global Conference. The workshop will take place on Thompson Island in the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area on June 20, 2013, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Cost is $150 but if you also register for the Summit, you can save $50. Workshop participants are eligible for 10 PDPs, though an extra hour of work (until 6:00 pm) is required. Points will be issued through the University of Massachusetts Boston. Please see ourwebsite for details.

Photo credit: dsearls; license: CC BY-SA 2.0


Student Designers Hone Business Plans for Round Two of Competition

Ten university teams from round one of the Biomimicry Student Design Challenge are working hard to revamp their designs in round two of the competition. Lina Constantinovici of StartUpNectar, a biomimicry business incubator, and Biomimicry 3.8 Institute staff have mentored the students through the process, which includes submitting a business plan, video pitch, and revised design proposal. The teams will compete for the Grand Prize of $10,000, a $1,000 People’s Choice Award, and a chance to present their projects at the 7th Annual Biomimicry Education Summit and inaugural Global Conference in Boston, MA.

Special thanks to the Blackstone Ranch Institute for making this new round of competition possible. We are also pleased to announce that David Oakey Designs, the sponsor of the 2012 Biomimicry Student Design Challenge has already committed to sponsoring next year’s Challenge.

Sketch courtesy of Team MCAD SDO MAkers from the Minneapolis School of Design


Learn Biomimicry and Design in the Mexican Rainforest

Veracruz Workshop 2010_Sherry Ritter
Join us for our popular Biomimicry and Design Workshop in Veracruz, Mexico, July 11-20, 2013. You’ll start the workshop with an introductory lecture and then head off by bus to Talloguaya Camp, a riverside eco-camp in the Filobobos Natural Rainforest Protected area that will be your home for the next 10 days. You will visit at least 10 ecosystems where you’ll meet the organisms that will be your teachers and your inspiration for sustainable design. Other teachers include Sherry Ritter from the Biomimicry 3.8 Institute and Delfin Montañana and Raul de Villafranca (Biomimicry Fellows and professors at Iberoamericana University). For more information, please contact course coordinator Raul de Villafranca at [email protected]


Now Hiring: AskNature Content and Community Manager

If you’re a confident, strategic thinker and doer with a background in biology, a passion for communication, and a penchant for new challenges, we’d love for you to apply for our AskNature Content and Community Manager position. Hurry! Applications must be received by April 15.


Three New Board Members Bring their Passion for Biomimicry to the Institute

BoardWe’re thrilled that John Elkington, Ashok Goel, and Paul Tripp have joined the Institute Board of Directors to help guide our mission and vision. The three men bring a rich and varied skillset to the board. John is business leader, author, and a global authority on corporate responsibility and sustainability development. Ashok is a professor of computer and cognitive science at Georgia Institute of Technology, director of the school’s Design & Intelligence Laboratory, and a co-director of the school’s Center for Biologically Inspired Design. Paul has over 20 years experience leading multi-million dollar programs as a project manager and is skilled in the areas of information assurance, strategic budget planning, execution, and reallocation. We are grateful to all three for sharing their expertise with the Institute and look forward to learning more from them and with them in the future.

AskNature Nugget

A few years ago, urban dwellers in Manhattan and other metropolitan areas in the US experienced a terrible outbreak of bed bugs. Perhaps if scientists had studied the hooded pitohui bird, they could have prevented it. This month’s AskNature Nugget highlights the pitohui bird and it’s unique strategy for naturally repelling parasites. You will find a fresh Nugget in every issue of our newsletter, and each one will ask, “How does nature…?”

AskNature Featured Product

Flectofin® Inspired by the Bird-of-Paradise Flower

We’ve been teaching biomimicry courses and workshops for longer than a decade, yet we rarely see such a well-documented example of the biomimicry process as that of the Flectofin® hingeless louver system. The story starts with an interdisciplinary group of researchers who had a challenge in mind—maintenance of technical hinges, such as those used to deploy awnings or blinds, for buildings. They started looking at organisms and realized that plants have hinge-free movements and deformations that are reversible. The researchers studied how bird-of-paradise flower petals bend and rotate when a pollinating bird lands on them to feed on nectar, revealing the pollen-laden anthers. When the weight of the bird is removed, the petals return to their original position. The researchers have now created a prototype of a hingeless fin that can be used in an adaptive building facade system. The use of hingeless mechanical systems reduces the amount of maintenance commonly associated with interactive façade systems.

Photo credit: Brocken Inaglory; license: CC BY-SA 3.0


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