Join us for a panelists discussion about how to grow as a biomimicry professional. Our three Canadian presenters will speak to their how they learned more about biomimicry, and the opportunities that are out there today.
Biomimicry Alberta Lecture Series: Think Like a Pro
Friday November 27, 2020
12:00 MST to 1:00
- Anne-Marie Daniel, Partner, Innovation, NatuR&D
- Jamie Miller, President, Biomimicry Frontiers
- Omar Al-Zehhawi, Architectural Design Manager/Project Manager
- And hosted by Marjan Eggermont, Teaching Professor, University of Calgary
Biomimicry Alberta was created to ignite a regional network for design innovation, to promote learning by exploring nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies, and to create synergies for sustainable change in Alberta.
Anne-Marie Daniel, Partner, Innovation, NatuR&D
Over a career as a mediator highlighting the problems facing people and the planet, Anne-Marie has a deep belief in people’s creative spirit and desire to have a lifestyle that is in sync with Nature. With some extra help in the form of teamwork, talent and tools, she believes we can design our way out of this planetary mess if everyone brings their piece of the puzzle. Anne-Marie holds a BFA in Theatre Design, a Graduate Certificate in Mediation, a Masters in Biomimicry and is a Certified Biomimicry Professional.
Jamie Miller, President, Biomimicry Frontiers
Jamie Miller is the Founder of Biomimicry Frontiers – an award winning sustainability consultancy based out of Guelph, Ontario. He earned his PhD in engineering at the University of Guelph, focusing on systems-level biomimicry in urban resilience and was the director of the Biomimicry program at OCAD University. Jamie has recently started the Biomimicry Commons, an education and incubation platform, which Fast Company called a “World Changing Idea” in 2019. He is a two-time TEDx speaker and was named a “New Centurion” by the David Suzuki foundation.
Omar Al-Zehhawi, Architectural Design Manager/Project Manager
Omar is an award-winning Architectural Designer/Project Manager with 25+ years of flourishing international experience in the architectural industry. He holds a Master’s degree in Architecture with an approach specialized in comparing primitive pattern-based architecture to structures built by organisms. His passion in studying the relation of form and nature led him to generate and develop a multitude of creative and sustainable designs inspired by the process of biomimicry, creating spaces that focuses on improving the wellbeing of communities.”
Marjan Eggermont, Teaching Professor, University of Calgary
Dr. Marjan Eggermont is a Teaching Professor and faculty member at the University of Calgary in the Mechanical and Manufacturing department of the Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary. She co-founded and designs ZQ (zqjournal.org), an online journal to provide a platform to showcase the nexus of science and design using case studies, news, and articles.
Discover biomimicry, an emerging discipline that solves design challenges by taking inspiration from nature.
Biomimicry teaches us how to become an integral part of the natural world: acknowledging the strength and resilience of the living systems that support us, and showing us that we can, and should, support them in return. This presentation by University of Alberta alumna Kira Hunt will share examples of innovations inspired by nature that can help us live more gently upon the Earth.
Electron microscopes and other new tools are allowing us to see from nano to macro like never before, showing us the shapes and inter-relationships of the natural world that are all around us, but that have been invisible until recently. With new approaches, come new inspirations: building on time-tested patterns that have evolved over billions of years, we can learn how to design waste-free and sustainable solutions.
About Kira Hunt
Kira Hunt is a landscape technologist at IBI Group in Edmonton specializing in park design, structural detailing and heritage interpretation. She is also a member of Biomimicry Alberta’s core group, helping to coordinate the non-profit network of design innovators. She received a BA from the University of Alberta before returning to school for a diploma in Landscape Architectural Technology from NAIT and a graduate certificate in Biomimicry from Arizona State University.
This lecture is presented by the University of Alberta’s Sustainability Council.
As a biologist who is also a member of the advisory board of Biomimicry Alberta, I feel called to share some words about the present situation, as well as some general ideas based on what we may learn from nature to decrease or prevent the impact of future outbreaks of viral diseases.
What is a virus? The literal translation from Latin means “poison”. For a long time it was known that some infectious diseases were caused by invisible agents. Viruses are too small to be seen under a light microscope, it was the invention of the electron microscope has allowed us to see them. There is no consensus among scientists on whether viruses are living beings or not – it is evident that all viruses have some sort of genetic material DNA or RNA (COVID19 is an RNA virus), however, viral genetic material is incapable of reproduction unless it penetrates a living cell and uses the molecular machinery of a living cell to reproduce. In a sense, viruses are obligatory molecular parasites. Not having metabolism of their own, and not being able to reproduce without help, many scientists take the position that viruses are at the border between living and non-living nature. They can influence living cells to produce more viruses, but they are not alive by themselves. Although there are several hypotheses on the origin of viruses, none of them can be scientifically proven at this time. Simply, we don’t know how viruses came to be. What we know is that today, science can modify natural viruses and even design new ones, that being said, there is no scientific evidence for the artificial origin of COVID19 – the infection is here and the most important thing we can do is to fight it.
Every virus has specific genetic material, either DNA or RNA, and we can create specific tests for detection and early diagnostics. These tests are based on PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) technology that is used to rapidly amplify genes in a test tube within 2-3 hours and identify the presence or absence of a virus within the sample. In order for this technology to work, the DNA or RNA sequence of a particular virus have to be known and using this, DNA probes or primers are synthesised artificially. These probes recognise viral genetic material in the sample and specifically amplify only the viral sequence. The specificity of viral genetic material allows for the specificity of the test, however, the primers must be designed in a way to prevent non-specific amplification which would recognise more than one viral species and result in false positive outcome of the test. The number of false positive results also depends on the quality of training and the conditions within each laboratory that performs these tests, since cross contamination is generally the main problem. PCR is an extremely sensitive technology and cross contamination of the sample with just a single molecule can result in the amplification of DNA and false positive result. Due to the urgency of the situation, there is not much transparency on how specific the tests for COVID19 are and what is the ratio of false positive and false negative results.
What can BIOMIMICRY offer for the safer future of humankind? Biomimicry could, in the broadest term, be defined as a field of innovative intellectual activity which brings together science, technology, design and art, based on learning from living nature and applying the best solutions to human society.
- In nature, most species live in complex communities called ecosystems, in which there are many species, but the density of each species within the space is relatively low. This is one mechanism that helps prevents pandemic spread of diseases in nature. It is obvious that the largest centres of infective disease spread are large overcrowded cities. One option will be for people to redesign our way of life to live in decentralised self-sustainable small cities and towns.
- In nature, each organism takes care of their own food supply. Animals do not go to shopping malls to get their food, neither did our ancestor a couple of centuries ago.As much as possible, all local communities should produce food to prevent supply problems resulting from economical instability and transportation disruption.
- There is scientific evidence from the past that several animal viruses passed the interspecies barrier and affected humankind through human to human spread. To prevent this, people could reduce consumption of animal-based foods, particularly food that is mass produced on a large scale.Reducing the presence of pets in highly urban environments would also contribute to this solution.
- In nature, the strongest and healthies members of the species survive.We should live healthy lives with lots of physical activity, low stress, good rest, healthy plant-based nutrition, and foods low in animal proteins and sugar, to keep our natural immunity high so that we are ready to fight infections.
I would like to reinforce that I am not a virologist nor a medical scientist. My training is in the field of molecular genetics and developmental biology. As such, the views that I share are my opinion, but an opinion based on my professional knowledge and following general scientific principles of observation and experimentation.
Associate Professor of Biology, Department of Science, Augustana Campus, University of Alberta
The ongoing StrC project initiated by Dr. Carlos Fiorentino is being displayed at the University of Alberta Augustana Campus for two months (January 30 to March 27). The exhibition was prepared by Dr. Carlos Fiorentino and Dr. Tomislav Terzin, and co-organized with Augustana Library. “Living colours” proposes a journey through structural colour to the visitors of the library. The installation offers hundreds of colourful specimens from Dr. Terzin’s entomology collection, as well as a microscope station to explore structural colours in detail, a selection of related books on the subject, and access to the StrC interface online–a taxonomic database that collects structural colour cases and scientific information intended to connect science and design innovation.
January 31, 2020
Doors at 5:30 pm, Presentations start at 6:00 pm
Join us for the second presentation of the Biomimicry Lecture Series at the Calgary Central Library, Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall.
Be inspired by stories about bees, barnacles and more, and learn how strategies used by these organisms are inspiring new technology and design solutions. Organized in partnership with the Calgary Library, Village Ice Cream, and BUILDEX Alberta.
- Moderator and Introduction: Jorge Zapote
University of Calgary | HBI · Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
- Mindi Summers – From bees to barnacles: design inspired by Alberta native bees and West Coast marine invertebrates
Dr. Mindi Summers is an invertebrate zoologist and biology education researcher at the University of Calgary.
- Dr. John Bertram – Finding bioinspiration: From dino teeth to new age ceramics
Dr. Bertram’s research involves biomechanical analysis integrating tissue, structure and systems levels. His current main focus is on determining the factors that affect movement patterns in locomotion.
- Kai Costantini – Title TBD
Kai works as a Strategic Business Consultant, partnering with regenerative and well-adapted tech ventures and other initiatives.
Sharks, Termites and More of Nature’s Brilliance
BMO Centre, Calgary
Join Kira Hunt, Linda Selin and Micheal Williamson to learn about biomimicry and nature-informed strategies for the built environment. Register for session T06 at https://www.buildexalberta.com/en/home.html
“Today’s scientists, chemists, biologists, zoologists, architects, engineers, designers and many more are solving their challenges by looking to nature’s design. Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies for new ways of manufacturing and living that are well adapted to life on earth over the long haul. Designing, creating and building; whether spaces, places or things, can be directed and learned from the natural world. Nature holds a catalog of products within it. Each with nearly 3.8 billion years of research and development.”
Also – Mark your calendars for a second Calgary event January 31st, 2020 hosted in partnership with BUILDEX Alberta and the Calgary Public Library. More information to come!