Bioinspiration – crossing interdisciplinary borders

Bioinspiration – crossing interdisciplinary borders

It is really going to happen! We talked about this for YEARS, and now we are finally going to see it come to fruition.

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Kate Loudon and I have known each other for a long time. It was kind of inevitable that two women who were part of the leadership of the Entomological Society of America’s Section B, now the Physiology Biochemistry and Toxicology (PBT) section, would become friends. We are actually from THAT era where female leadership in the ESA was a rarity (not anymore!).

Since we both have an interest in insect physiology (broadly) and biomechanics (specifically) we started talking about organizing a bioinspiration symposium. Fundamental insect biomechanics studies have inspired technologies for some time now. For about 5 years I have been teaching courses on bioinspiration and I use Kate’s research on bed bug-killing materials as an example of innovations that can be inspired by nature and benefit society. So the match seemed natural. Also, we really like each other and would use any excuse to collaborate on something.

It took a while but we managed to put together an awesome symposium with prestigious speakers on the biggest entomological stage ever; the 2016 XXV International Congress of Entomology to be held in Orlando, FL (Sept 25th-30th).

We are so thrilled about the line-up. There is a great variety of speakers (topics, nationality, ethnicity, gender) and we can’t wait for them to interact with each other and other interested entomologists. Some of our speakers have never been to an entomological meeting. We expect to get them hooked, or at least speak well of us entomologists once they are back at their home institutions.

We hope that as a result of this symposium new collaborations will develop, be it to delve into new research questions or to explore educational avenues.

Let me first introduce you to the speakers. Hopefully as the symposium draws closer I can share a little bit more about the topics and speakers in follow-up posts.

  • Our first speaker will be Dr. Robert Wood who is the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences in the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Prof. Wood is also a founding core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, a power-house in the field of bioinspiration.  The Wood lab is probably most famous among entomologists for their work on robobee – a miniature flying, and now also sensing, robot inspired by biology.

  • The next speaker will be Chen Li from Johns Hopkins University. Prof. Li coined his own research topic: terradynamics. Similar to how aero- and hydrodynamic principles have shaped our knowledge about animal locomotion in air and water it is Prof Li’s goal to better understand animal locomotion on complex (always shifting) terrains, thus his creation of the terradymics lab at JHU.  Cockroaches feature prominently in his research.

  • Next we switch from robotics to bioinspired materials. Kate (Dr. Catherine Loudon, University of California at Irvine) will share her work on how small structures on bean leaves kill bed bugs and how these structures (and their special characteristics) have spurred interest in the development of physical insecticidal bioinspired materials.
  • Faithful readers of this blog will know by now how enamored I am by the insect cuticle. I am therefore glad that we will have Dr. Stevin Gehrke (Fred Kurata Memorial Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Kansas) talk about the physical properties of beetle elytral cuticle and why this type of biomaterial may have many possible applications.
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Tenebrio molitor with characteristic elytra covering the hind wings. By gbohne from Berlin, Germany

  • Next I will discuss a relatively new project from my lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in collaboration with Dr. Nenad Miljkovic from Illinois’s Mechanical Science and Engineering Department and Dr. Donald Cropek who is a chemist from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Over the past few months we have initiated a comparative study of native Illinois cicadas’s wings to determine physical and chemical attributes that make the wings have (super)hydrophobic, self-cleaning and maybe even antimicrobial characteristics. This collaboration has been really fun and I have learned about a lot of new techniques and I hope to share some of my excitement with the symposium’s audience (Bouncing water droplets anyone?!!!!).
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Neotibicen dorsatus at Loda Prairie, July 2016. By Marianne Alleyne

  • Another interesting biological material is, of course, spider silk. Dr. Crystal Chaw from Dr. Cheryl Hayashi‘s lab at the University of California at Riverside will explain how studies on the evolution of spider silk have helped in the engineering of artificial silk production.

  • From biological materials we next move to different types of flow in insects. First Hodjat Pendar from Prof Jake Socha’s lab (Virginia Tech) will be talking about how the insect’s tracheal system (which is actually linked to other physiological systems) can serve as inspiration for novel flow control. It is a fascinating topic which I have touched upon previously in a blog post.

  • Flow sensing at a small scale is definitely a topic that is of interest to engineers. And it is something that insects do very well. Dr. Jérôme Casas from the University of Tours (France) will present some of the work he has been doing with Dr. Gijs Krijnen (University of Twente, The Netherlands) on the fluid dynamics of olfaction in insects.
  • Another amazing sensor found in insects is the IR sensor in pyrophilous beetles such as in the genus Melanophila. Will we ever be able to engineer an IR sensor as sophisticated as the ones found in beetles? Dr. Helmut Schmitz (Institute of Zoology of the University of Bonn) will share his work to explain how an understanding of the active amplification mechanism seen in the beetle’s IR sensor might help bring us closer to a robust and sensitive bioinspired IR sensor.
irorgan

IR organ of Melanophila acuminata. Schmitz & Bousack (2012) PLoS ONE 7(5): e37627.

  • At this point in the symposium we are shifting gears just a little bit to talk about how to actually DO bioinspired design, and how can we best teach our students to come up with successful bioinspired designs. Most people when they first hear about bioinspiration or biomimicry they immediately think this line of thinking makes total sense. Biologists want to contribute and feel even more justified to delve into fundamental biological questions. Engineers are happy to add bioinspiration into their imaginary toolbox. But for bioinspiration to be successful, to actually have as an end result a bioinspired technology that is based on real biological data, biologists and engineers have to work together. And that is not always so straightforward (Writes the entomologist who has been married to a mechanical engineer for 20+ years. Trust me, it is not straightforward.). Prof. Ashok Goel (Georgia Tech, Co-Director of the  Center for Biologically Inspired Design. will discuss some of the cognitive challenges that he has encountered when working with collaborators and students on biologically inspired design projects. What he has learned about how engineers and biologists approach certain problems is fascinating.
  • The symposium will again switch topics somewhat by next delving into social insect behavior. First up will be Dr. Ted Pavlic (Arizona State University, Associate Director for Research at The Biomimicry Center at ASU) who will talk about how social insects make group decisions and how that knowledge can be transferred to create smart and adaptive teams of robots.
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Eciton hamatum workers on the trail, Jatun Sacha reserve, Napo Ecuador. Alexander Wild.

  • We will end the symposium with another social insect talk, this one by Dr. Deborah Gordon (Stanford University). Prof. Gordon will talk about her research on collective behavior in ants and how they have influenced engineered networks.

Kate and I hope you can join us for our symposium, either in person or virtually via Twitter or Instagram (we will use hashtag #ICE2016BioI and #ICE2016) and follow-up blog posts. Feel free to use Twitter to ask questions of the speakers (@Cotesia1).

“See” you on the 29th!

 

So meta: A blog post about my poster about blogging.

Last week I attended the Annual Meetings of the (other) ESA in Austin, TX. Actually, I kinda helped organize that meeting. (More about that in my next post, which will focus on my time on the Program Committee.)

When I first submitted the title for the poster in June I had only just started this blog and I thought it would be a great idea to cover the numerous posts I would have written by November.

So, yeah, about that….

Still, it was a great exercise to go through and it helped keep me sane during the weeks leading up to the meeting.

ESA13PosterGrab

Click here for the pdf version of the poster

Below is a picture of what it looked like at the conference. I was unable to spend much time with it since the official social hour for the poster session was right at the time of various committee meetings (obviously poor planning on the part of the Program Committee). Judging by the bump in views at my blog some people did find it interesting.

As I mention on the poster, social media has enriched my scientific life. One of the best parts of the meeting was therefore to meet, or catch-up, with some of my ento-tweeps. (Bummed that I had to miss the “official” tweetup).

One of my major “accomplishments” as Program Co-Chair was to get ESA to provide these twitter stickers for name-badges:

Even people not at the conference were represented via a Twitter fall (The stream did not always work correctly, something to improve for next year.)

For more details on why twitter (and, in my opinion, other social media outlets) can be useful to entomologists please read @derekhennen‘s take at EntomologyToday.

To end this short post I’ll just include a tweet from @bug_girl because it reflects my sentiments exactly! Ento Bloggers Rule!

Field Trip to the Alleyne Lab

People at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign often make a distinction between “Those North of Green Street” and “Those South of Green Street”.  In a town that is almost perfectly arranged as a square grid, Green Street runs through the campus, connecting downtown Urbana to Campus town and to downtown Champaign.

Google Map of the UIUC campus

Google Map of the UIUC campus

Located North of Green Street are almost all buildings associated with the College of Engineering and South of Green Street is everything else (it seems). North of Green is where the money is, South of Green not so much (it might appear to an Entomologist). South of Green is where the slackers roam, and North of Green where the studious students are holed up (it might seems to the average Engineer).

This (for the record: incorrect) image is not really helped by the fact that Green Street is quite a dangerous street to cross. Unless you have courses on the other side, why would you risk your life? Quite a few students rarely have to make this choice during their 4+ years on campus. However, I try to do my part to make students experience life on the other side of Green Street. Students from different disciplines benefit from interactions. And, Hello!, the same goes for faculty and staff.

Last week I made students risk their lives and cross Green Street, just so I could change their future by having them touch some cockroaches. I am happy to report that all students (mostly engineers from North of Green), who are enrolled in the ENG333 course, arrived safely at my lab (located South of Green), and that there might be at least a few students out of about 40 who enjoyed the experience.

For the “field trip” my graduate student Gwyn Puckett and I had transformed the lab into an insect petting zoo complete with cool displays. During the sessions (4 different sets of students visited us in 45 minute intervals) we also had help from Adrian Smith. Adrian is a Postdoc in the Suarez-lab here at Illinois and he has an extensive background in biomimicry.

IMG_6392This semester the displays were kind of heavy on the cockroaches because of the 15 or so different species that would make an appearance at the 30th Insect Fear Film Festival to be held a few days later. But we also had live ants, flies, lubber grasshoppers, etc.

The goal of the “field trip to the Alleyne lab” is to get students to look at insects in a way they have never looked at, or touched, them before. I try not to talk for the full 45 minutes, I encourage students to ask questions and thus to guide the discussion, but I do some talking and I try to cover at least 2 or 3 of the 6 topics outlined below. In the future I will cover these topics in more detail here on the blog. I leave this detail out for this field trip since I want the students to be guiding the creative process (remember, the course is called Creativity, Innovation and Vision).

1. Structural Color in Insects

IMG_6393

Butterfly – nanostructures -> structural color display

Many butterflies and beetles have nanostructures that give their wings and bodies iridescent structural colors. I made this Prezi presentation a few years ago. The information is basically what I explained to the students visiting the lab.

2. Cockroach-inspired robots

Bioinspired robots have become quite popular over the past few decades. The most famous examples are the robots that were inspired by cockroaches (again, I will blog more about this in the future). Engineers realized that the stability of the roaches due to their tripod gait, and their ability to go rather fast over many different types of terrains were all characteristics that would serve robots well.

This short video shows both the tripod gait, the stability and the quickness of the Madagascar hissing cockroaches (Gromphadorhina portentosa). (The tweet itself shows one should not tweet while exhausted – I couldn’t type strate 😉 )

vine.co/v/bXZ69b1OBJx

3. Insect sensors

I also pointed out the many “simple” yet elegant sensors that insects use to get around in their environment, and to taste stuff, and to find each other. This is easy to see in the cockroaches (see video in previous section) as they try to navigate obstacles – they use their antennae, for instance. I also encouraged the students to hold a lubber grasshopper and to point out some of the sensors that are easily visible (compound eyes, antennae, sensors on mouthparts), and then told them of the ones that are not so obvious (mechanoreceptors, for instance).

4. Insect Cuticle

Gwyn and I discussed the live Manduca sexta (tomato hornworms) and pointed out the different types of cuticle an individual makes during its lifetime. The cuticle is made up primarily of chitin and protein, is build “from the ground up” in an hierarchical manner, and large parts of it get recycled at each molt. In the picture below the caterpillar on the left will initiate pupation in a few days and then eventually turn into a pupa like the one on the right. The caterpillar’s cuticle is soft and bendable, the pupa’s is hard and tough.

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Manduca sexta (Tomato hornworm) caterpillar (L) and pupa (R)

5. Social Insects

There is always so much to discuss when it comes to social insects, so we usually have the students just ask questions. In the past I have shown students leaf-cutter ants.

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Leaf-cutter ant colony observed by ENG333 students (in 2011). It is always interesting to watch emergent behavior get things accomplished – in this case getting leaf material from the tray in the foreground into the nest located in the tray which is in the background.

This year Adrian told the students about a local carpenter ant species, Camponotus pennsylvanicus, and (my favorite) trap-jaw ants. This semester the trap-jaw ant species was Odontomachus rixosus, a species collected in Cambodia.

Harvester ant colony (two arenas in the foreground) and Trap-jaw ant colony (rectangular arena in the background

Harvester ant colony (two arenas in the foreground) and Trap-jaw ant colony (rectangular arena in the background

As a bonus, Adrian also brought in a zinc nest cast of  Messor pergandei (an harvester ant from Arizona).

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Zinc cast of an harvester ant species, Messor pergandei, that always makes nests that run down at an angle. Most other species have nests that go straight down. This only about 1/2 of the complete size of the nest.

ZincCastAntNest2

Of course, we always have to show the videos of trap-jaw ants jumping “with their mouth”, and then crashing back to earth – and surviving. I tried to make the students think about the amount of force a small animal can generate with the right muscle and cuticle, and that it is amazing that the cuticle does not shatter upon impact.

6. Other insects

Other live insects that made an appearance were:

  • The milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus
  • Mealworm larvae, Tenebrio sp.
  • House flies, Musca domestica
  • Death-feigning beetles, genus Cryptoglossa
  • Lots of different species of cockroaches, including:
        • The cutest cockroach

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          Lucihormetica verrucosa, warty glow spot. This individual was given the name Frodo.

        • And the one from X-files fame, Blaberus giganteus, the giant cave cockroach  (see next blog post for more details about X-files and their roaches)

    https://vine.co/v/bgepq16Lmru

Other displays included:

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Gwyn talking Science, and student scribing Science!

Some things I would like to do differently next time.

1. Prepare some questions that students have to fill out before they come on the field trip. I would ask them questions about what they know about biomimicry and bioinspiration, and about the videos they were supposed to watch.

2. While in the lab some students took to the project/process easily and did exactly what I wanted them to do: ask questions, take notes, make sketches. To help others get “jump-started” I might also come up with a worksheet that encourages students to Science Scribe the whole adventure. This may require clipboards and thus a trip to to the office supply store. YEAH!

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Adrian talking to one group of students about ants.

All and all, it was a fun afternoon. I think we made a few students think about:

  1. Insects, and other animals and even some plants, can serve as inspiration for technological innovation.
  2. There is actually some really cool stuff going on South of Green. Some of it may even be worth a trip across Green Street.

I owe a special thanks to Gwyn Puckett, Adrian Smith and the ENG333 TAs for helping out with the fieldtrip!

Note: the picture of the lubber grasshopper was shot with an iPhone by Alexander Wild. Find out how he did it here.

Introducing Engineering Students to BioInspiration

Creativity, Innovation and Vision Courses

At this point in the semester I introduce myself to the students in the Engineering courses with the title Creativity, Innovation and Vision.  There is both an undergraduate (ENG333) and a graduate version of this course (ENG598).

The originator of the course is Dr. Bruce Litchfield. Students in these courses learn that their own state of creativity is not as static as they might expect. Bruce and his collaborators also do research on creativity enhancement; paying special attention to the ways in which engineering students currently incorporate creativity, since it has been shown that for engineering students creativity does not increase as they move through their college courses (the same is likely to be true for students in other disciplines).(1)

The descriptions for the CIV courses are:

“Personal creativity enhancement via exploration of the nature of creativity, how creativity works, and how to envision what others may not. Practice of techniques and processes to enhance personal and group creativity and to nurture a creative lifestyle. Application to a major term project providing the opportunity to move an idea, product, process or service from vision to reality.” (2)

The courses are quite popular with students from all over campus, not just Engineering.  Many of the students who take the graduate level course become teaching assistants for the undergraduate course in subsequent semesters. (I think in this case the term ‘facilitators’ instead of TA is more applicable)

BioInspiration (formerly BioCreativity)

Over the last ~3 years I have worked with Bruce and the TAs on a module we call BioCreativity BioI.  It is basically a module on BioInspiration or Biomimicry. I now kind of regret coming up with yet another term for a field of study that suffers from much confusion due to terminology already, but students seem to like the title because it fits into the focus of the course so perfectly. However, if we adhered to proper terminology more rigorously it should be acknowledged that BioCreativity is actually the combination of biology and art, not biology and technology, as we use it here. [Note: in 2014 we realized that the term Biocreativity created too much confusion and we decided to name this module BioI or BioInspiration].

The BioInspiration module is divided into four class meetings and each meeting is separated by 2 or 3 weeks [Note: in 2014 we also decide to condense the module since students felt they were not able to focus on this one task if they had all these other topics being thrown at them too.]  This week I met the students of two ENG333 sections. This semester a large majority of students are engineers (mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, bioengineering). A number of students are computer science majors, and advertising majors. A couple of students are majoring in the arts, such as creative writing and graphic design. Students from the humanities are also represented, by majors in philosophy and anthropology. In other words, it is quite a diverse group of students eager to learn how to enhance their creativity.

During our first meeting this past week I introduced the students to the topic of Biocreativity.  I mostly talked unscripted, but I also had a pretty PowerPoint behind me with amazing pictures by Alex Wild (http://www.alexanderwild.com/). [Note: in 2014 the course will have 7 or more sections. Too many for me to visit. We have decided to therefore put this first lecture on video which will be presented to the students during the class.]

  • I continued the introduction by explaining how I became interested in Bioinspiration. I like to tell the students that it is all my husband’s fault. I am married to a mechanical engineer and over the 25 years that we have known each other, we have taken many a road trip. Usually during these trips we end up “discussing” why insects are better/worse at “doing stuff” than human engineers. In the beginning (the first 24 years) he always ended the argument by saying something like: “Well, sure that might be a cool thing that insects can do, but can they fly 500 people across an ocean? No? Well, there then!” My interest in teaching modules, courses, and now this blog on Bioinspiration is all because I really want to learn how to win this argument.
  • "Biomimicry Shoe" by Marieka Ratsma and Kostika Spaho. Interesting, definitely. Pretty, maybe.Biomimicry, definitely not.Photograph by Thomas van Schaik.

    Biomimicry Shoe” by Marieka Ratsma and Kostika Spaho. Interesting, yes. Pretty, maybe. Biomimicry, definitely not.
    Photograph by Thomas van Schaik.

    I then very briefly explained what I mean by Biomimicry and Bioinspiration. I do this quickly because the topic of definitions might evaporate all creativity out of these students. I put up Janine Benyus’ (Biomimicry3.8) Life’s principles, and also Robert J. Full’s quote about evolution working on the just good enough principle.  I actually spend more time on what I think biomimicry and bioinspiration is not. Students see these types of examples often in popular media because the terms have become buzzwords.

  • Why have biomimicry and bioinspiration become buzzwords? In my opinion it is probably because people like to think that if we copy/mimic/emulate nature, or at least base some or our new engineering designs on nature, then it is probably also more sustainable. And sustainability is itself a buzzword. I stressed in my presentation that that is not necessarily the case. The most famous example of bioinspiration is probably Velcro, which is made from synthetic materials that are not biodegradable and cost a lot of energy to produce.  For many scientists who are inspired by nature and use biomimicry or bioinspiration as a guide it is not sustainability per se that drives them. It is a guide to making new basic biological discoveries, or to innovate and solve a technological problem. “Why does an animal or a plant do that? And how can we use that what I have learned in a new technology?”
  • Next I make a very controversial statement: “I think my husband is basically correct.”  Of course, nature has not been able to carry 500 people across an ocean. Primarily because of the issue of scale. Nature works at a much smaller scale than we humans usually do. However, we currently live during very exciting times, where we can find inspiration for innovation at a smaller scale. We can now image at the nano-scale. That means that we can see structures and processes at a scale where very important things in nature happen. At the same time we are starting to be able to manufacture at that size scale too. We can start to build structures the way that nature builds materials and structures; hierarchical and from the bottom up.
RulerAnt

Dinoponera australis. Photograph by Alex Wild. http://www.alexanderwild.com.

  • Just consider an ant. Think of the interesting aspects of an ant’s body and life history. All these apsects have the potential to inspire us. (These are subjects I will blog about in greater detail at a later point).
  1. Exoskeleton (cuticle). Multifunctional. Made from relatively few elements (compared to all the elements from the periodic table we use to manufacture our multifunctional materials). One individual often has cuticle that has different characteristics – soft (larva, abdomen) or hard (adult, head), for instance. And on top of that, when molting occurs in the larval stages most of this cuticle is recycled and used in the new cuticle. No toxic substances required. All of life’s principles satisfied.
  2. Located on the surface of the cuticle are nanostructures that can help capture moisture, or give an insect color (as is the case in the Morpho butterfly).
  3. The locomotory mechanisms of insects, including ants, has inspired many bioinspired robots. I have tried to keep up with all the different bioinspired robots on this Pinterest Board.
  4. Insects, even tiny ones like this ant, have many interesting sensors on their bodies: compound eyes, simple eyes, antennae, mechanoreceptors, etc.
  5. Ant and termite nests have also been of interest for bioinspired architecture since through cooperative behavior they can build structures that are relatively stable and require few inputs (Again, unlike our own structures).
  6. And sociality in ants, the cohesion that exists between these “small brained” insects, has inspired electrical and computer engineers.
  7. And so on.
  • These are all examples of inspiration points from just an ant.
  • By this point it was my hope that students understand the possibilities that exist. I gave them some tips on how they can become “bioinspired”.

Avenues to becoming BioInspired (as a student in CIV)

1. Delve into biomimicry and bioinspiration basics

Students were asked watch two videos before the next BioCreativity meeting.

  1. Dayna Baumeister from Biomimicry3.8 at 2011 Bioneers conference  (her talk starts at 4:50min)
  2. Robert J. Full from UC Berkeley – TED talk entitled Engineering and Evolution

2. Delve into biomimicry and bioinspiration history

Students are encouraged to review some “famous” examples of bioinspired design.

Some general articles that introduce the topic:

The incredible science behind how nature solves every engineering problem. Business Insider. Jennifer Welsh. March 14, 2013.

Non-insect Top 10 (These are the most famous examples, I do not agree that all of these are in fact bioinspired or have been successful*):

  1. Cockleburs -> Velcro
  2. Lotus leaf -> Self-cleaning materials
  3. Gecko -> Gecko tape
  4. Whale fins -> Turbine blades
  5. Box Fish / Bone -> Bionic car
  6. Shark skin -> Friction reducing swim suits*
  7. Kingfisher beak -> Bullet train
  8. Ecosystems -> Industrial symbiosis
  9. Coral -> Calera cement*
  10. Forest floor / Ecosystem functioning -> Flooring tiles

Insect Top 10: I will cover all of these examples in detail in this blog.

  1. Morpho butterfly structural color
  2. Namib beetle water collecting
  3. Cockroach walking/running
  4. Insect flight
  5. Termite mound passive cooling
  6. Bee swarming
  7. Collembola skin
  8. Mosquito inspired microneedle
  9. Insect foot adaptations for adhesion
  10. Cockroach campaniform sensilla for sensing

Change your surroundings and go outside into nature

Here are some resources for when you go out into nature:

  1. Secrets of Watching Wildlife
  2. Get to know nature by keeping a journal

Go inside to view nature

Change your perspective

  • Look at things from different, less familiar angles. Look at a whole tree (Why is a tree that shape?), go closer (Why is the bark textured like that?), go even closer (Why does moss grow in those crevices).
  • Sketch or take pictures
  • Bring your friends – talk about what you are seeing.
Leonardo Da Vinci's sketch of a bird in flight. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci’s sketch of a bird in flight.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_Vinci

See what others are doing

  1. http://zqjournal.org/
  2. http://bouncingideas.wordpress.com/
  3. http://bioinspiredink.blogspot.com/
  4. http://ciber.berkeley.edu/
  5. http://wyss.harvard.edu/
  6. http://templebiomimetics.wordpress.com/category/bioinspiration/
  7. http://ase.tufts.edu/biology/labs/trimmer/
  8. http://www.biokon.net/index.shtml.de
  9. http://swedishbiomimetics.com/
  10. http://www.fastcompany.com/biomimicry
  11. http://inhabitat.com/index.php?s=biomimicry

Find inspiration on the web (look at great pictures of nature, read great stories about biology).

Go to the bookstore or library

BookCovers

Bioinspiraton and Biomimicry book covers from my eReader and at my lab.

  • Cats’ paws and catapults: mechanical worlds of nature and people. Steven Vogel. 2000
  • Biomimicry: Innovation inspired by nature. Janine M. Benyus. 2002
  • The gecko’s foot: bio-inspiration: engineering new materials from nature. Peter Forbes. 2006
  • Bulletproof feathers: How science uses nature’s secrets to design cutting-edge technology. Robert Allen. 2010
  • Biomimetics: Biologically inspired technologies. Yoseph Bar-Cohen. 2005
  • Biomimicry in architecture. Michael Pawlyn. 2011
  • Biomimetics in Architecture: Architecture of Life and Buildings. Petra Gruber. 2010
  • Biomimicry: Innovation inspired by nature. Janine M. Benyus. 2002
  • The smart swarm: How to work efficiently, communicate effectively, and make better decisions using the secrets of flocks, schools, and colonies. Peter Miller. 2010
  • Learning from the octopus: How secrets from nature can help us fight terrorist attacks, natural disasters and disease. Rafe Sagarin. 2012
  • Darwin’s devices: What evolving robots can teach us about the history of life and the future of technology. John Long. 2012.
  • How to catch a robot rat: When biology inspires innovation. Agnes Guillot and Jean-Arcady Meyer. 2010.
  • Etc.

Use Social media

For example Twitter. I suggest you follow these folks because they often tweet links to interesting bioinspiration or biomimicry (and thus biocreativity) topics.

And then I sent the students off into the world, to get inspired. Actually, I explained a little bit more about the project we want them to do, but I will leave those details until the next blog post about BioCreativity.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

(1)  This research by Burgon, et al. (under review) measured the creativity of first- and fourth-year engineering students using two nationally-normed creativity assessment instruments. I will blog more about this work when it has been published.

(2) More information about the Creativity, Innovation and Vision courses:

Two videos that introduce the topics discussed in the courses can be seen here:

  1. Part 1: http://youtu.be/6Csl7VPaG1k
  2. Part 2: http://youtu.be/c4BIa1RtpnI

And here is a pdf of  the First Day Course Pack.