Janine Benyus is a biologist, innovation consultant, and author of six books, including Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. In Biomimicry, she names an emerging discipline that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s designs and processes (for instance, solar cells that mimic leaves).
Since the book’s 1997 release, Janine has evolved the practice of biomimicry, consulting with sustainable businesses and conducting seminars about what we can learn from the genius that surrounds us. Her favorite role is biologist-at-the-design-table, introducing innovators to organisms whose well-adapted designs have been tested over 3.8 billion years.
In 1998, Janine co-founded the Helena, Montana-based Biomimicry Guild with Dr. Dayna Baumeister. The Guild is an innovation consultancy providing biological consulting and research, workshops and field excursions, and a speakers’ bureau. The Guild helps designers learn from and emulate natural models with the goal of developing products, processes, and policies that create conditions conducive to life.
In 2005, Janine founded The Biomimicry Institute (TBI), a nonprofit organization based in Missoula, MT. TBI’s mission is to nurture and grow a global community of people who are learning from, emulating, and conserving life’s genius to create a healthier, more sustainable planet. Programs include the development of biomimicry courses in a range of educational settings from K-12 schools to universities as well as non-formal venues such as zoos, museums and nature centers. TBI also offers biomimicry workshops for designers (engineers, architects, etc.) as well as biologists through the Biologist-at-the-Design-Table training. TBI’s Innovation for Conservation program uses proceeds from bio-inspired products to conserve the habitat of the mentor organisms. In 2008, the TBI launched www.AskNature.org, an open-source database of biological literature organized by design and engineering function. In early 2009, as part of its K-12 educational outreach work, TBI released Ask the Planet, a CD of children’s biomimicry songs, written and composed by Amy Martin featuring numerous celebrity artists including Ani DiFranco, Dar Williams and Bruce Cockburn.
Janine has received several awards including a Time Magazine’s Heroes of the Environment award, the Rachel Carson Environmental Ethics Award, the Lud Browman Award for Science Writing in Society, and the Barrows and Heinz Distinguished Lectureships. In 2009, Janine was honored with a Champion of the Earth award in Science & Innovation from the United Nations Environment Programme. She traveled to Paris to accept the award on Earth Day and then participated in a two-day conference hosted by Business 4 Environment.
An educator at heart, Janine believes that the more people learn from nature’s mentors, the more they’ll want to protect them. This is why she writes, speaks, and revels in describing the wild teachers in our midst.
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