A conceptual framework of ‘function’ in biology and bio-inspired design

Principal Investigator: Emilie Snell-Rood, University of Minnesota

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Overview
Team

This project seeks to develop a new conceptual framework for function in biology that articulates with bio-inspired design approaches from architecture and engineering. In particular, they will challenge the limiting perspective of immediate, optimal adaptive function by building a set of interdisciplinary tools that encourage a more systematic exploration of the diversity of biological function across environmental and phylogenetic contexts and scales, which is more rigorous in how purposive phenomena are conceptualized. A key output of this analysis will be theoretical resources for engineers and designers to understand multifunctionality and collaborate with biologists in discerning associated explanatory principles of function in living systems.

emilie-snell-rood

Emilie Snell-Rood

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness
Project:
‘Function’ in biology and bio-inspired design
Role:
Subaward Principal Investigator

Emilie Snell-Rood is an Associate Professor and Associate Head of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Emilie did her graduate work at the University of Arizona and a postdoc at Indiana University before starting at the University of Minnesota in 2011. Research in her lab asks why organisms vary in developmental and behavioral plasticity, and what this means for predicting responses to novel environments. She primarily uses butterflies as a study system, but also has experience working with beetles, bees, birds, and mammals. Emilie teaches Animal Behavior and a course on bio-inspired approaches to problem-solving. Her interests in bio-inspired design have led to a series of interdisciplinary collaborations developing educational modules for engineers and designers interested in looking to biodiversity for ideas in their own applications.

Mary Guzowski

Mary Guzowski

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness
Project:
‘Function’ in biology and bio-inspired design

Mary Guzowski is a Professor in the School of Architecture where she teaches and conducts research related to daylighting, solar, biophilic, and sustainable design. Her publications include the books Art of Architectural Daylighting, Towards Zero Energy Architecture: New Solar Design, and Daylighting for Sustainable Design, a variety of web-based design resources, and professional articles. She chaired the development of MS Sustainable Design Program in the School of Architecture, was a co-author of the first edition of the Minnesota Sustainable Design Guide (with John Carmody), and the Carbon Neutral Design Project (with Jim Wasley and Terri Boake). Her current research is focused on biophilic and bio-inspired approaches to daylighting and architectural design. Mary has received awards for design education from the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment, American Institute of Architects Minnesota, and the Associated Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

Gillian Roehrig

Gillian Roehrig

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness
Project:
‘Function’ in biology and bio-inspired design

Dr. Gillian Roehrig is a professor of STEM Education at the University of Minnesota. She received her PhD in Science Education from the University of Arizona in 2002. Her research explores issues of professional development for K-12 science teachers, with a focus on implementation of integrated STEM learning environments and induction and mentoring of beginning secondary science teachers. Her work in integrated STEM explores teachers' conceptions and implementation of STEM, curriculum development, and student learning in small groups during STEM lessons. She has received over $50 million in federal and state grants and published over 130 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. She is a former president of the Association for Science Teacher Education and currently serves as president-elect of NARST. She is the recipient of the 2020 ASTE Outstanding Science Teacher Educator Award.

Jessica Rossi-Mastracci

Jessica Rossi-Mastracci

Cluster:
(Re)Conceptualizing Function and Goal-Directedness
Project:
‘Function’ in biology and bio-inspired design

Jessica is an Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota, and the Kusske Design Initiative (KDI) Co-Principal for 2021–2023. KDI aims to connect individuals across design disciplines to co-create solutions to global issues through the lens of environmental stewardship, using dialogue, interdisciplinary inquiry, and collaboration as methods of inquiry. In her work, Jessica investigates new ways of adapting to future unknown conditions in extreme landscapes, with a focus on infrastructure, materiality, and ephemerality. She teaches in landscape construction, infrastructure and systems, advanced planning and design, digital representation, and graduate design studios.

News

May 02, 2022
Building bridges between biology and design