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Biomimicry Symposium

The Office of University Interdisciplinary Programs and the Integrative Sciences Initiative are holding a one-day symposium focused on biomimicry, which seeks inspiration and innovation from nature to tackle challenges and solve problems.

The Future of Biomimicry

Photo credit: Image courtesy professor Kellar Autumn, from Autumn, K., et al. 2002. Evidence for van der Waals adhesion in gecko setae. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99, 12252-12256.

The focus of the symposium will be on Biomimicry Across Scales: From Macro to Molecular. At the macro level, biomimicry includes looking to non-human species for insights in design and engineering, such as analyzing gecko feet to make a better adhesive or studying termite mounds to create sustainable building systems. At the molecular level, biomimicry includes using or simulating biological systems as tools, such as exploring the use of DNA to store data or creating organoids and 3D cell culture to mimic human tissues.

The morning part of the symposium will be a series of talks open to the NC State community and the general public where scholars present their work and ideas. The goal of the talks is to connect individuals already engaged in biomimicry research with those who may be in the future. In the afternoon, a subset of morning participants will convene a think tank-style meeting in order to begin drafting a conceptual review paper on the field and a white paper to be used in NC State planning.

Date and Time

Friday, Jan. 20, 2023


8 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. — Speakers and Lightning Talks

12:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m — Working Group (lunch will be provided for working group members)


D.H. Hill Jr. Library

The morning portion of the symposium will also be live streamed at

How to Participate

  • If you would like to attend the talks, register here.
  • If you would like to give a talk, submit your information here.

Symposium Schedule

8-8:30 a.m.
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Dr. Rob Dunn, Senior Vice Provost for University Interdisciplinary Programs, and William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor, Department of Applied Ecology, NC State
8:30-10:30 a.m.
Invited Speakers
Dr. Clint Penick, Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, Kennesaw State UniversityTalk Title: "Bringing Biologists and Biodiversity to the Design Table"
Dr. Joshua Pierce, Professor and LORD Corporation Distinguished Scholar, Department of Chemistry, and Director, Integrative Sciences Initiative, NC StateTalk Title: “Inspiration from Nature: How Molecular Biomimicry Can Tackle Societal Grand Challenges”
Dr. Gavin Williams, Professor and Head, Department of Chemistry, and Associate Director, Chemistry of Life Program, NC StateTalk Title: “Synthetic Biology: Innovation Inspired by Nature”
Dr. David Hu, Professor, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of TechnologyTalk Title: "From Robotic Water Striders to Cat-inspired Hairbrushes"
Dr. Rene Lopez, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of North Carolina at Chapel HillTalk Title: “Butterfly Scales and Nanostructures for Photovoltaics”
Dr. Ashley Brown, Associate Professor, Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at NC State and UNC-Chapel HillTalk Title: “Designing Synthetic Platelets for Hemostasis and Wound Healing”
10:30-10:45 a.m.
10:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Lightning Talks
All speakers are from NC State
Dr. Nathalie Lavoine, Assistant Professor, Department of Forest BiomaterialsTalk Title: "Bioinspired Textiles and Objects for Sustainable Fashion Displays"
Keren Zhao, Ph.D. Student, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringTalk Title: "Rational Design of Viral-inspired Nanoparticles for Cancer Detection"
Dr. Thomas Schroeder, Assistant Professor, Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and ScienceTalk Title: "Fabrication Schemes for Crystalline Materials Inspired by Biomineralization Processes"
Dr. Rohan Shirwaiker, Professor, Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems EngineeringTalk Title: "Ultrasound-assisted Bioprinting to Achieve Biomimetic Organization in Engineered Tissues"
Dr. Caroline Proulx, Assistant Professor, Department of ChemistryTalk Title: "New Strategies for Peptide Mimicry"
Dr. Lucian Lucia, Professor, Department of Forest BiomaterialsTalk Title: "A 'Bird Nest' Bioinspired Strategy Deployed for Inducing Biopolymer Gelation"
Dr. Tom Makris, Associate Professor, Department of Molecular and Structural BiochemistryTalk Title: "Enzymatic Carbon-carbon Cleavage for Natural Product Biosynthesis"
Dr. Stephanie Mathews, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological SciencesTalk Title: "Camel Cricket Microbiome Mimicry"
12:45-1:45 p.m.
Lunch for working group members
1:45-5:30 p.m.
Real-time Development of Papers
A working group will begin drafting two papers during this time:
- A peer-reviewed paper on a new holistic view for biomimicry that includes molecular biomimicry
- A white paper on the opportunities for molecular biomimicry at NC State

About the Symposium

The symposium coordinators are:

  • Rob Dunn, Senior Vice Provost, University Interdisciplinary Programs
  • Joshua Pierce, Director, Integrative Sciences Initiative
  • Gavin Williams, Head, Department of Chemistry

Please contact with any questions about the event.