Biomimicry Symposium

Great Lakes Biomimicry Collaborative (GLBio) hosted an event for business leaders, scientists, and designers this Thursday. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss the collaborative’s recent accomplishments and future goals, and about sixty people from all different walks of life showed up for updates! GLBio representatives discussed the formal partnership they have established with Biomimicry 3.8 and how they plan to advance biomimicry as a discipline in northeast Ohio. Peter Niewiarowski, our PhD director, updated the audience on the PhD’s progression. Bill, Emily, and I each gave a 5-minute brief on the intellectual progress we’ve made in the past six months. Afterwards, everyone seemed really anxious to talk to us and learn more! The whole day gave us great vibes about what is happening in the region, and even more motivation to help disseminate this discipline to educators and a range of industries.

Biomimicry is all about the power of Nature to inspire novel ideas, so we couldn’t go the whole event without a little inspiration.  During an intermission, an employee of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo walked around the audience with a live owl and snake! I was particularly excited about the owl given what I’ve learned about bird feathers in my advisor Matthew Shawkey’s lab at UAkron. The research focus in the lab are the diverse and often very vivid colors of bird feathers produced through structural coloration. The Cleveland Zoo employee talked about the owl’s unique ability for noiseless flight, and how this has inspired quieter, more efficient airplane wings. One of the comments made at the end of the GLBio resonated with me: “Innovation comes when you engage with the energy you feel when you look an owl in the eyes.  We are all a part of the natural world.”

It was a wonderful experience networking with people of the same mindset. But forming these connections with forward-thinking people is only the beginning. As Henry Ford once said; “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

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