If you’re wondering why I’m so forking excited about studying biomimicry at Arizona State University’s Biomimicry Center, I want you to meet Janine Benyus, the founder of this field and creator of this program. Welcome to the future. Welcome to the movement. Here’s Janine: https://asuonline.wistia.com/medias/npzymug1ue
Last week I had the chance to interview a number of biologists about their work. All of them expressed enthusiasm and passion for their work. And all of them explained that the worst part of their jobs was the funding process. I took some time and looked into this further, and found that this is a pervasive problem. We have many brilliant scientists who have a tough time making a living and remaining joyful about their work because of the tedious, broken, and inefficient funding system in place and the stress it causes.
Platforms like Patreon are great. Merchandise sales are helpful. I use both these outlets to support work that’s important to me, science included. However, the sustainability of these efforts and their ability to support the goal of scientists to be compensated in proportion to the importance of their vital work seems questionable.
So what’s a scientist to do?
That’s the question I’m attempting to answer with the concept for a new product development company that I hope to start when I finish my Masters in biomimicry. I have a BA in Economics and History, an MBA, and a 20-year career in business and product development. Why am I getting this degree in science? Because I believe that all these aspects need to be combined for the sustainability and health of the planet. And as a happy consequence, I want to employ talented scientists in that endeavor so that their research is more widely applied and they are able to generate an income with benefits that helps them live a good quality of life outside of the drudgery of the ever-more-competitive funding cycles.
I understand that this is a very tall order. That it will take a huge amount of work and time to get this right. But I think I can do it, and I’m going to try for all our sakes.
Can’t get this smile off my face because this wk I’m officially a grad student for the 2nd time & for the 1st time am a scientist-in-training. I started my biomimicry program at The Biomimicry Center at Arizona State University. (The program is mostly online so I am still in NYC!) To realize this dream means more to me than I have words to express. Beyond grateful!
“The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30. You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” ~Tina Fey
Strongly feeling this sentiment from the great Tina Fey as I get ready to begin grad school in biomimicry on Monday. A HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who have been so dang supportive of this whole process. It’s really overwhelming and exciting and mind-boggling that I’m standing on this precipice and taking the leap. I’m scared and happy and nervous and thrilled and in awe that this all worked out as it did. All the feels.
I couldn’t have dreamed a better next step. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and I’m going to work my tookus off to do the very best I can. And to think this is all happening right now because Alie Ward interviewed a shark expert on the Ologies podcast about the healing properties of its mucus. Goodness, I will never forget that moment when I was on Broadway across the street from Lincoln Center walking to work, completely enthralled with the idea of finding a class or workshop in biomimicry. I never thought I’d find a whole damn Master of Science in this discipline and that I’d get in. Magic is everywhere; it’s all around us all the time.
If you’re starting something new in this new year, I hope this quote by Tina Fey helps you, too. Be scared and do it anyway, whatever it is. We’re all in this together. We’re all just walking each other home.
Did you know that Rockefeller Center now rises on a plot of land in the middle of Manhattan that once served as the site of the country’s first public botanical garden? I had no idea about this New York City secret until yesterday when I listened to an episode of the Science Friday podcast.
Author Victoria Johnson wrote about it in her gorgeous book, American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic. New York City will never stop amazing me because there will always be new stories to discover here, histories and achievements and inspirations literally buried underground, waiting to be unearthed by a curious soul. What a joy! What a gift!
200-600 octillion microbes live a mile underground and thrive in 250°F water. Some breathe rocks, specifically uranium. Others eat leftover plants that are hundreds of millions of years old. And they can wait to reproduce for thousands of years when conditions are favorable. Add up all these wild subterranean microbes and they weigh as much as 200 million blue whales, much more than all 7.5 billion humans. And you know what? They’re related to us far less immutable surface dwellers. Bats hear shapes. Songbirds see UV light. Most animals are bioluminescent (including us!) but our eyes are too weak to see it without visual aids. Wonder is everywhere, a gift for all of us. Stay curious, friends. We have so many discoveries to look forward to.
This week is perfect for establishing goals. This week I’ve been writing a business plan that uses science and biomimicry as a basis to develop sustainable products, systems, and processes while helping at-risk youth, reducing recidivism, and providing training and jobs to people with low incomes. I’m working hard to roll everything I love into one endeavor without compromising and helping as many people as possible. You’d think I’d be scared to start my own company again, to try my hand at entrepreneurship knowing how hard it is and having suffered my fair share of hard knocks the last time. But I’m not. I’m not afraid at all. On the contrary, nothing fills me with more hope.
This is adulting at its finest: what opportunities we don’t see in the world we must make for ourselves. Grad school round 2 starts in less than a month – this time getting a Masters of Science in Biomimicry. In the past week, I’ve registered for classes, ordered my books for those classes, and applied for scholarships (waiting to hear back). Honestly, this gift to myself is what I’ve wanted for many years and is only now possible with this new program at ASU and my clear-eyed view of the next chapter of my career to combine my work in product development, business, storytelling, invention, history, and sustainability with my passion for science and endless sense of curiosity. Like all the best gifts, it’s one that gets better with time.
If you want to really know me, listen to this interview. The big question for me in this lifetime is, “Does everything matter or does nothing matter?” A few months ago, I gave the most personal interview I’ve ever done. My friend, mentor, and storytelling hero, John Bucher, introduced me to Josh Chambers and Leiv Parton, hosts and producer of the podcast, How Humans Change. My interview is now live. our wide-ranging conversation includes career, science, sustainability, the health of the planet, biomimicry, dinosaurs, product development, therapy, curiosity, change, the economy and capitalism, time, technology, work, culture, implicit bias, life-changing moments, storytelling, writing, poverty, trauma, writing, my book, mental health, strength, resilience, therapy, fear, courage, my apartment building fire, how my plane got struck by lightning, and so much more. Despite these dark topics, there is a lot of light, fun, laughter, and healing in this interview. It’s the most personal interview I’ve ever given, and some of the details I reveal about my personal path and past I have never discussed publicly before now. I hope you enjoy the podcast episode and that it inspires you to live the best life you can imagine.
Good morning and happy Friday! In an attempt to bring some good news into the world, I restarted my monthly newsletter. It talks about what I’m doing, where I’m going, and how I’m staying inspired with links to books, podcasts, and products that I’m currently enjoying / learning from. Check it out here and if you’d like to subscribe, there’s a little “Subscribe” button in the upper left-hand corner. https://mailchi.mp/18a…/more-good-news-from-christa-avampato
This month’s news includes: books, storytelling, dinosaurs, my trip to Iceland, fossils, mental health, the healing power of writing, and tours of secret NYC places.
You can also find the links to all newsletters going forward here: https://christaavampato.com/subscribe-to-my-newsletter/