This week, I have the great pleasure and honor to teach biomimicry to 300 high school and college students through a program run by the Wildlife Conservation Society. (WCS is famously known in the U.S. for all of New York’s zoos including the Bronx Zoo, central Park Zoo, and New York Aquarium!) The feedback was terrific with some of them saying this was the best presentation they’ve had in their entire summer program and a few of them reaching out to me personally asking if I’d mentor them.
They’ve filled me with joy and I’m grateful to all of them and to WCS for the opportunity to share my passion for nature as our greatest design teacher. I’m one tiny step closer to my goal of finding a way to get biomimicry into every high school and college in the country. If you’d like me to present to your group or class (young children, teens, or adults), please let me know!
When COVID-19 started to spread across the U.S. in March, the Biomimicry Institute started 30 Days of Reconnection to help people stay connected to one another by reconnecting through nature. Each day they sent an email with a nature topic, resources to learn more, and a prompt. Then they asked people to reflect on the prompt with something creative and share the reflections on Twitter and / or Instagram with the hashtag #30DaysOfReconnection. https://biomimicry.org/30days/
I was finishing my Biomimicry graduate program in March and April so I didn’t have time to participate then but I do have some time now. Luckily, the 30 days of prompts are all available on the Biomimicry Institute website. I started yesterday and will be doing a prompt each day for the next 30 days with the lens of building back better after COVID and to create equity and justice in our society.
I’ll post my creations each day. If you’d like, please join me and share your creations with me. I’d love to see and hear them! Here’s my Day 1:
Day 1 was about the topic of regeneration. I created a word map about what regeneration means to me and drew a sketch of the Eurasian Wolf. When wolves return to an ecosystem, their presence is a sign that we’ve turned the corner from regeneration to restoration. I also included what I think is my superpower: an endless supply of joy and curiosity that keeps me strong, hopeful, and active even in tough times like the times we’re facing now.
Destruction and ruin are often heartbreaking to witness. Destruction is now visible in every corner of our country. Some of that destruction is causing intense pain and suffering among people who were suffering even before the pandemic—job losses, hunger, and intense fear about our democracy and the future. Some of that destruction is tearing down structures that have grown brittle with efficiency—our food supply chain, education system, healthcare, and housing to name just a few. It all hurts.
The only hope I can find in all of this wreckage is that through regeneration we have the opportunity to build back better, with more justice, more equity, and for better mental, physical, emotional, and economic health. I’m committed to that process, and that commitment is what’s getting me through the pain, fear, sadness, and uncertainty I have faith in our will to collectively choose to create a braver, brighter future for all us.
I bursted into tears yesterday when I turned in my final assignment for my capstone project to complete my biomimicry graduate school program. A year and a half ago I started this journey and I wasn’t sure where it would take me but I knew I was fulfilling a dream I’d had since I was a kid—to bring science into my career in a deep and meaningful way. There was no way I could have known then the spotlight that would be on science now, or how important it would be to finish my program now and get out into the world and use it. So here’s what I’m doing with it, starting today…welcome to the world Beyond Plastic.
I’m so excited to share the news that I was accepted into the ComSciCon Flagship workshop, a science communication event for graduate students. 950 graduate students applied this year for 50 slots. This year’s event was supposed to be in Boston but will be held online because of COVID-19. I’m honored to participate at this critical time in our history when science and science communication are having massive impacts on every area of our lives in every corner of the world. I can’t wait to meet and learn with the other attendees and all of the invited experts. To learn more about this event and the organization, please visit https://comscicon.com/comscicon-2020-flagship-workshop.
I’m so excited to share that I reached one of my big writing goals for 2019: I wrote and published two pieces about biomimicry for a science publication. I’m so grateful to The Biomimicry Institute for reaching out to me and asking me to write for them. My two pieces about biomimicry’s pivotal role in the Green New Deal (a set of policies to protect the health of our planet) and the Blue New Deal (a subset of Green New Deal policies that focuses on the health of our oceans) are now live. You can read them at the links below. I’d love to know what you think!
For the past few weeks, I’ve been looking around for an affordable way to take some science pre-requisites. While I’ve learned so much in my biomimicry studies, I really need a much stronger foundation in science and research to do the work I want to do—using nature’s designs to build products, systems, and services.
This led me to reach out to a Principal Investigator (PI) who runs a nanotechnology lab here in New York City, where I live. We’ve had some wonderful conversations and are planning to do a short research project together this spring which will be my last requirement for my biomimicry certificate. I’m considering doing my PhD with him, and to make that a possibility I need to take science requisites: two semesters each of biology, chemistry, and organic chemistry. The challenge—science classes are expensive!
I investigated online options thinking that would be the most economical way to go. Not by a long shot! They didn’t have any with labs, which is what I need, and I was astounded at the cost – $700 per credit for 22 credits left me looking at a tuition bill of over $15,000. And that wasn’t even the total cost since I’d have to get the lab experience elsewhere. I was crestfallen.
Then on a whim, I decided to look into the local community college – Borough of Manhattan Community College. And what to my wondering eyes did appear? Classes conveniently timed and in mixed formats of online, in-person, and hybrid at $263 per credit for in-state residents like me. I’m elated! I can get all my requirements in done right on time to (hopefully) start my PhD in the Fall of 2021.
Community colleges are unsung heroes in our communities, and I’m going to be shouting about their value for a long time. If you have dreams that require some additional education, I highly encourage giving your local community college a look. I hope you’re as surprised and delighted as I am by the opportunities they offer.
Hi all! Quick question for you: I’ve thought about starting a biomimicry podcast because there isn’t one (which is shocking considering there’s a podcast for nearly everything!?) If I did start one—interviewing people who practice, use, teach, and study biomimicry, and talking about new cool biomimicry inspirations—would you listen?
In case you haven’t heard of biomimicry, it’s the practice of applying the genius designs of nature to the human-built environment. This could be products, systems, processes, buildings, whole cities, you name it! If humans design it, looking to nature for design inspiration and guidance will make designs more sustainable, efficient, and beneficial for the planet. Check out more about what biomimicry is by visiting https://biomimicry.org/.
What is it about biomimicry that has me so fired up to make it the center of my business career? It’s articles like this piece on NPR about how mussels can clean oil and heavy metals from water. Nature holds the key to so many problems we have. It already knows what to do; it already has the solutions we are so desperate to find. (And given the state of our planet, our desperation is justified!) Our job now is to listen, to watch, to observe, and then replicate what works. We can do this. (Big thanks to my dear friend, Edith Gonzalez, who helped me find a new way forward when I was at first unsure, and to Brian McCormack, who sent me this article and constantly helps me find the light amidst so much darkness.
I found summer camp for science nerds – but even better because it’s during the Fall, my favorite season. And I’m going!
Yesterday I was listening to Ologies podcast and Alie Ward mentioned Sci Comm Camp, a gathering that takes place over a long weekend in November outside of LA. There are workshops, fun presentations, and plenty of downtime to connect with people who love science and are passionate about sharing science with others.
Given my graduate studies in biomimicry at Biomimicry 3.8 and Arizona State University, my desire to spread this practice as far and wide as possible, and my love for collaborating and learning from others, this seems like the perfect event for me. Plus, I’m hoping to sneak in a trip to see some L.A. pals while I’m there. Already looking forward to November!
I’m studying sustainable coastal resilience strategies in the face of climate change and rising sea levels. Seawalls don’t provide sufficient protection, harm wildlife, pollute waterways, and are difficult and expensive to maintain. Artificial walls don’t work in nature. What works is building longer buffet tables and larger homes that make accommodations for all stakeholders—coral reefs, mangroves, oyster beds, and salt marshes. This idea is much more than a metaphor or allegory. Seawalls are a cautionary tale of what happens when we exclude beings who have all the same rights that we do to survive and thrive. Sustainable solutions have successfully played out over the course of 3.8 billion years of natural history’s R&D lab. We would be wise to follow its example.