News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Greater Akron Chamber

Akron Children's Hospital

Lehmans


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Science and Technology




Exploradio: Biomimicry Ph.D
Biomimicry is the art of studying nature's way of problem solving.  A new biomimicry Ph.D. track at the University of Akron teaches sustainable design.
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
Industrial designer Doug Paige shows off the backside of his prototype kayak paddle modeled from the fins of reef fish. The face (not showing) has ridges that give extra traction in the water. He has yet to patent the design.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

The University of Akron is offering the world’s first doctorate in the field of biomimicry.  It’s a five-year exploration of nature’s solutions to industrial design problems. 

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair looks at a unique blending of art, science, and business.

 

Exploradio: Biomimicry Ph.D.

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:07)


(Click image for larger view.)

Inspired by reef fish

Doug Paige teaches industrial design at the Cleveland Institute of Art, and is an avid kayaker.  He’s also a professor of biomimicry in the newly created biomimicry PhD. track at the University of Akron.  Biomimicry is an emerging field that looks to nature for design inspiration.  That's why Paige modeled his handmade prototype kayak paddle after the fins of slow moving reef fish, a design he says gives plenty of traction in the water.  Paige's paddle mimics the ridges in the pectoral fins of reef fish,"because they need to stop and start." He's not looking to mimic the fastest fish in the ocean, he's looking for ones, "that can really grab the water and stick.”

Form follows function.  It’s a principle industrial designers like Paige live by.  It’s also the guiding principle behind life on earth, according to biomimicry pioneer Janine Benyus.  Benyus led Paige and his doctoral students on a walk in the park before she spoke Thursday in Akron.

Biomimicry 3.8

Janine Benyus is founder of the Montana-based consulting firm Biomimicry 3.8, as in 3.8 billion years of field testing for living organisms on earth.  Her firm is working with a new collaborative called Great Lakes Biomimicry to cultivate partnerships with local industries to sponsor Akron’s biomimicry doctoral fellows.  She say this is the first cohort of students who will graduate with a Ph.D in biomimicry, and the companies here in Ohio that want to be innovative and sustainable in their product lines "have heard about biomimicry."

Benyus says bioimimicry provides a whole new way of solving problems by researching how nature solves similar problems in living things.  She says companies are "going to look around and say, ‘Who do we have who’s trained in this way of thinking?’”

International cohort

The inaugural program has attracted three students from three continents.  Daphne Fecheyr-Lippens is from Belgium.  She has a masters in biochemistry, as does Taiwanese student Bill Hsiung.  Both plan to introduce the concept of biomimicry to their respective homelands. 

The third student is Emily Kennedy from Boston, who heard about Akron’s program while studying international relations in Australia. She values the varied backgrounds of the professors and students in the program.  She says,"it’s really a cool integration of different perspectives.”

Biologists at the design table, designers in the lab

The biomimicry Ph.D. is part of the integrated biosciences program at the University of Akron that brings together biology and engineering, and now creative designers like Doug Paige.  Paige says designers are trained to analyze function and to solve problems through the design process.  But in biomimicry, intimate knowledge of living organisms is required to unlock their functional secrets, "So it’s the two together that helps us understand either the resource behind it, or what we need to go study to help solve our problem.”

The five-year biomimicry doctoral degree being developed at the University of Akron is the first of its kind.  Biomimicry 3.8’s Janine Benyus plans to use it as a model for similar initiatives worldwide, part of her crusade to put biologists at the design table and in the boardroom.   


Related WKSU Stories

Biomimicry looks to nature for inspiration
Thursday, February 4, 2010

Listener Comments:

The degree referred to in this article at UA is Doctor of Philosophy in Integrated Bioscience.


Posted by: Sue Robinson (Akron) on September 24, 2012 1:09AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

Another Indians season opens with Chief Wahoo under scrutiny
The picture you have for Robert rocha is not him. He has long hair. No idea who that guy is in that picture

Portman predicts McDonald's confirmation, but says it won't be easy
I sent the following note to Senator Blumenthal after reading commentary from yesterday's hearing: Senator, You certainly have the right to ask Mr. McDonald que...

Seven minutes changed everything, but what changed Ashford Thompson?
He shot the guy four times in the head. I have never been that drunk or mad, and I have been through it. Shoot a guy once is bad, maybe a mistake, shoot a guy f...

First cricket farm in the U.S. opens in Youngstown
I am interested in cricket flour to replace soy flour in a low carbohydrate diet. As soon as you have cricket flour available for the average person, please le...

New process starts digesting sludge in Wooster
Awesome! When do our sewage rates decrease accordingly?

Akron's Chapel Hill Mall in foreclosure
Not a surprise. Between the shoplifting, gangs and violence that goes on up there it is no wonder that no one feels safe to shop at Chapel Hill. They have sca...

Ohio launches investigation into at least one Concept charter school
I worked at Noble Academy Cleveland as admin assistant and enrolment coordinator for 6 years, I know this is so valid and true and can provide staff names and p...

Crisis looms in filling aviation industry jobs in Ohio and the nation
I listened to this story yesterday morning on the radio and just want to add this comment. My son went to school to train as an air traffic controller, and gra...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University