I’m Derek Miller and I am from Marion, Iowa. I attended undergrad at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa and obtained a bachelors in both Biology: Ecology and Evolution and Graphic Design. While I was there I spent a lot of my time working as a lab assistant in Dr. Jeff Tamplin’s lab taking care of the many turtles, snakes, and two alligators, helping the grad students with wood turtle microhabitat field research, and leading tours of local school children through the halls, teaching them about all the herps. I moved to Akron in 2015 to enroll into the Integrated Bioscience PhD program, and have Dr. Petra Gruber, whose research focuses on biomimetics in architecture, and Dr. Peter Niewiarowski, who studies gecko adhesion and developing synthetics that mimic it. I am a biomimicry education fellow sponsored by MC2 STEM High School in Cleveland, and I look forward to being a part of a movement that encourages students to think biomimetically, as well as works with educators to incorporate biomimicry into their curriculum.
Being both an artist and a biologist, I became strongly influenced by the paintings and sketches of Leonardo da Vinci. I was fascinated by the details of the artist’s drawings, and the inspiration from nature that is seen in his inventions. It was this interdisciplinary approach that inspired me to pursue the field of Biomimicry at the University of Akron, where I hope to use art and design as a way to reveal the genius and beauty of the natural world. More specifically I’m interested in biomimetic generative/parametric design and it’s applications for 3D printing and environmentally responsive products and architecture.
“Those who are inspired by a model other than Nature, a mistress above all masters, are laboring in vain.” -Leonardo da Vinci