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NatureMaker

Are you looking for a novel solution to a design, engineering, or sustainability problem?

Welcome to NatureMaker, a place where inspiration from nature is transformed into sustainable innovation.

NatureMaker is an active learning library that facilitates hands-on explorations of nature.

Why look to nature? “After 3.8 billion years of evolution,” writes biomimicry thought leader Janine Benyus, “nature has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with: energy, food production, benign chemistry, transportation, collaboration, and more…. Mimicking these earth-savvy designs can help humans leapfrog to technologies that sip energy, shave material use, reject toxins, and work as a system to create conditions conducive to life.”

NatureMaker Hours

Monday, Tuesday, Friday: 9am–2pm
Thursday: 11am–4pm

Wednesday: Closed

Make NatureMaker Reservation Here. 

 

Location

The Biomimicry Center
Design South (CDS) – Room 126
850 S. Forest Mall
Tempe, AZ 85281

 

Learning resources include:

  • a collection of hundreds of natural artifacts from both terrestrial and marine environments
  • an array of visualization tools for studying natural phenomena
  • a collection of biomimicry and natural history books including volumes on such topics as biomechanics, field guides and nature macrophotography.

Come visit NatureMaker and see how nature can reframe your challenge and transform your solutions.

NatureMaker is a collaboration between Arizona State University’s Library and Biomimicry Center.

Visit the ASU Library NatureMaker site to make reservations and view additional faculty resources. 

 

Nature@Noon

Conversations about Biology and Sustainable Innovation

 

“Biomimicry is learning from and then emulating natural forms, processes and ecosystems to create more sustainable designs,” writes biomimicry thought leader Janine Benyus. Join us for this series of Nature@Noon talks and discover what we can learn from bees and trees, spiders and desert ants…and so much more! 

The Nature@Noon series is a collaboration between the Biomimicry Center and the Library at Arizona State University.

View previous Nature@Noon recordings below, and check our Events page for upcoming sessions! 

Thinking Like a Tree: Dendrites and One Man’s Search for Universality in Nature and Engineering

Michael Kozicki, School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, Arizona State University

Branching patterns are ubiquitous in nature. You can find them in the structure of trees, the bronchial tubes of the lungs, the connections between neurons in the brain and even in the forking of lightning bolts and eroded river beds. They are known as dendrites, a word that comes from the Greek for “tree.” For more than a quarter of a century, Michael Kozicki has studied the formation and properties of dendrites in ionic materials and applied some of his insights in wildly divergent innovations including improving the efficiency of electronic systems and thwarting counterfeiting in food and consumer goods. Join Kozicki as he takes you on a fascinating journey into one of the most common and magical phenomena in nature.

Small is Beautiful—But Could It Be Useful? 

Michele Lanan, Resident Research Scientist, Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Arizona

Visualization technologies are taking us ever deeper into the microscopic reaches of our world, allowing us to glimpse even its tiniest features in stunning detail. Some of the most startling revelations have come from an unexpected source—the interior recesses of ants. These tiny insects have evolved a fantastic variety of functional gut structures including precision valves, chambers that expand like origami under pressure, and elegant micro-sculpting for filtering fluids and bio-film adhesion. Could these remarkably diverse forms provide us with inspiration for new materials, architectural designs, or miniature medical technologies? Join social-insect researcher, Michele Lanan as she discusses her explorations of the inner workings of ants and suggests novel bio-applications for some of her discoveries. 

 

Tough Stuff: Exploring the Material World of Nature

Dhruv Bhate, The Polytechnic School of Engineering, Arizona State University

Nature excels at building durable, lightweight and strong materials. These characteristics are a kind of Holy Grail for materials engineers. Thanks to new visualization technologies and advances in 3-D printing, bio-inspired materials are getting closer to becoming reality. These technologies are making it possible to not only design but also to manufacture new materials that can resist or heal fractures, absorb shocks without buckling, or bend without breaking. Join ASU engineering faculty Dhruv Bhate to learn more about how nature combines materials and structures to optimize mechanical performance in everything from honeycombs and luffa seedpods to sea sponges and animal skeletons.

From Understanding Ants to Building Better Robots

Stephen Pratt, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University

Each day, ants accomplish seemingly impossible feats. They cooperate to carry large objects, make decisions about where to live or collectively defend their nests without any kind of leadership or central control. How do they do it? Join ASU biology professor Stephen Pratt on an exploration of how ants use decentralized design to successfully carry out the tasks of daily survival. Learn how engineers are mimicking these strategies in human applications, including the design of robot swarms in the field.

Celebrating Spring

Dayna Baumeister, Director, The Biomimicry Center

Lily Urmann, Program Coordinator, The Biomimicry Center

Adelheid Fischer, Assistant Director, The Biomimicry Center

At the start of the pandemic, many of us found ourselves paying closer attention to the nature on our home ground. In this special Earth Day celebration of spring, Dayna Baumeister, Lily Urmann and Adelheid Fischer of The Biomimicry Center of Arizona State University invite participants to share their joys of backyard discovery.

Beyond Bio-Steel: How Spiders Can Inspire New Building Designs, Sustainable Materials, Opticsand Make Our Lives a Heck of a Lot More Interesting and Fun

Gita Bodner, The Nature Conservancy, Tucson, Arizona

Spiders recently grabbed headlines after engineers showed that, ounce per ounce, their silk fibers were five times as strong as steel. But spiders do more far more than simply create super-strength materials. Scientists have named more than 45,000 species of spiders in the world. They estimate that more than 45,000 additional species await discovery—and with them whole new worlds of ingenious strategies that could inspire sustainable innovation from structural engineering and optics to sustainable materials. Join Tucson arachnologist Gita Bodner for a fascinating hour of storytelling about the arachnids among us.

Drinking Rain: A Rattlesnake Mystery

Dr. Gordon Schuett, Evolutionary Ecologist and Science Director for New Mexico’s Chiricahua Desert Museum

Dr. Konrad Rykaczewski, Associate Professor in ASU’s School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy

While doing field research in southern Arizona, evolutionary ecologist Gordon Schuett observed that rattlesnakes often formed a flattened coil during rainstorms and began drinking water from their bodies. How did they do it? he wondered. Supported by a grant from the Biomimicry Center at Arizona State University, Schuett teamed up with ASU engineering faculty Konrad Rykaczewski to take a closer at the mysteries of snakeskin. What they discovered could help researchers develop materials that capture fog for drinking water in coastal areas. Join Schuett and Rykaczewski as they present the surprising results of their new work and discuss its implications for fog harvesting and other exciting new human applications.