Summit / Conference Program

Program subject to change. To view keynote and presenter bios, click on the presenter’s name.

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Thursday, June 20

On Thompson Island, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

8:00 am – 5:00 pm: Introduction to Biomimicry in Education
Additional fee and registration required. For details visit this page.

Friday, June 21

At UMass Boston Campus Center

7:45 am: Morning refreshments and registration
8:30 am: Welcome
9:00 am: Keynote

Janine Benyus, Co-founder, Biomimicry 3.8
The Biomimicry Network Effect:
What Will We Solve Together?

Biomimicry has gone viral in the last 15 years. Hundreds of start-ups are commercializing nature-inspired technologies. Dozens of schools and universities are offering brand new courses and degree programs. Natura, Arup, Airbus, Boeing, HOK, IDEO, Interface, Levi’s, Nike, and others are using biomimicry to disrupt business as usual in their labs as well as their boardrooms. Scores of regional networks are swarming to develop the discipline heralded as “one of the top 20 breakthrough business ideas” (Harvard Business Review, HBR List), “a paradigm shift for the world of design” (Smithsonian National Design Awards), and “one of 10 innovations that will change the way you manufacture” (Society of Manufacturing Engineers).

At this critical tipping-point for biomimicry, and for our planet, we can choose to mobilize our “network of networks” to focus on what’s worth solving.  If we collectively consulted nature to solve a few key issues, imagine what a difference we could make!  Join Janine Benyus as she discusses the Biomimicry Network Effect – how the biomimicry community might collaborate, with nature’s help, on a short list of challenges that just can’t wait.

10:00 am: Plenary Session

Generous Cities: Using the “Genius of Place” to Design Resilient Cities
In the face of climate change many cities face the challenge of how to be more resilient especially after record storm events like Sandy. How would nature serve as a model to make our dwellings safer while restoring “the commons” of air, water, and habitat.

Join Janine Benyus as she talks to creative architects, cities planners and other leading thinkers engaged in designing generous cities that give back and bounce back.

Presentation: Chris Garvin (Terrapin Bright Green)
Presentation: Thomas Knittel (HOK)
Roundtable Conversation: Janine Benyus, Chris Garvin, and Tom Knittel with Zach Tofias (C40), and Thad Pawlowski (NYC Dept of Planning)

11:30 am: Catered Lunch

1:00 pm – 5:30 pm: Topical Breakout sessions

Education Summit Track
Global Conference Track
Breakout Schedule

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm: Poster Session

Evening Activity:

Biomimicry Network Gathering
Join members of the Global Biomimicry Network for swilling and swarming as we hit the Boston nightlife. Details available at the conference.

Saturday, June 22

At UMass Boston Campus Center

8:15 am: Morning refreshments
9:00 am: Keynote

Neri Oxman, MIT Media Lab
Material Ecology

Oxman coined the term “material ecology” to describe the study and design of products and processes integrating environmentally aware, computational, form-generation processes and digital fabrication. Her goal is to enhance the relationship between the built and the natural environments by employing design principles inspired by nature, and implementing them in the invention of novel digital design technologies. Areas of application include product and architectural design, as well as digital fabrication and construction.

10:00 am: Plenary Session

Advanced Manufacturing: Using Nature’s Blueprints to Make Better Material
You won’t unpack your next TV…you’ll print it. The “Story of Stuff” is being rewritten by 3D printers that can make anything, anywhere.  Right now these printers use a toxic soup to achieve astonishing forms that used to be the domain of big factories overseas. But what if we followed nature’s blueprints about how to make materials, like resins, from locally abundant and benign feed stocks like carbon? We could usher in a new era of self-reliance with manufacturing that is safe enough to be brought back home, to our neighborhoods.

Presentation: Markus Buehler (MIT)
Presentation: John C. Warner (Warner Babcock Institute of Green Chemistry)
Roundtable Conversation: Markus Buehler, John C. Warner, Neri Oxman, Janine Benyus

11:30 am: Catered Lunch

1:00 pm – 4:30 pm: Topical Breakout sessions

Education Summit Track
Global Conference Track
Breakout Schedule

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm: Reception

Student Design Challenge Awards and Reception
At the Harvard Club | Details

Sunday, June 23

At UMass Boston Campus Center

8:15 am: Morning refreshments
9:00 am: Keynote

Amy LarkinAmy Larkin, Author
Biomimicry as a Solution to Environmental Debt

Ecosystems are now widely understood as the basis for all conservation and environmental protection. But we do not yet place our economy in the context of an ecosystem. But of course, it is a living social organism where every financial transaction impacts the health of ecosystems near and far.

In Amy Larkin’s new book, Environmental Debt:  The Hidden Costs of a Changing Global Economy, she connects the financial and environmental crises — both causes and solutions. She presents three fundamental principles to guide the 21st century economy:  1.  Pollution can no longer be free.  2.  The long view must govern all business and accounting decision making .  3.  Government must catalyze and incentivize environmentally positive business and penalize destructive economic activity.

10:00 am: Plenary Session

Biomimicry as an Emerging Discipline and Economic Development Framework

Despite being practiced for millennia, as well as being a source of widely-used everyday innovations (e.g., Velcro) and transformative technologies (flight), biomimicry is a paradigm which has yet to find its place as a formal academic discipline. In the enormously successful history of reductionism, new disciplines are recognized by how they diverge from or specialize within a related field (e.g., biochemistry and biophysics) while the paradigm of biomimicry is instead a convergence and synthesis of seemingly disparate academic traditions and cultures (e.g., art, design, engineering and science).

In northeast Ohio, the University of Akron, Cleveland Institute of Art, and Great Lakes Biomimicry have launched a long term experiment, aimed at contributing to establishing the form, function and direction of the emerging discipline of biomimicry and its potential as an economic development framework.  The speakers will discuss some of the strategies and challenges including: 1)  the design of an interdisciplinary academic platform to train PhD’s in biomimicry, 2) characteristics of a university-corporate interface for short and long term return on investment , 3) the design of collaboratives bringing  k-12 teachers and Biomimicry PhD Fellows together for curriculum development and, 4) the role of regional network development to reach educational and economic goals.

Presenters: Peter Niewiarowski (The University of Akron), Doug Paige (Cleveland Institute of Art), and Carol Thaler, Great Lakes Biomimicry

11:15 am: Closing Address

Dayna Baumeister, Co-founder, Biomimicry 3.8



12:00 pm: Summit and Conference meeting adjourns

3:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Green Harbors Boat Tour
Additional $30 fee and registration required. For details visit this page.