Bio-Inspired Design

June-August 7, 2015

Professor Maria Miara | 10 Weeks, 12 Credits | June 1 to August 7, 2015

Elegant, efficient wind turbine blades that move like whale fins. Super-strong adhesives that stick and release like barnacles and gecko feet. Every day, innovative new technologies are inspired by the natural world.

Now it’s your turn.

Over 10 weeks, in a variety of settings — including laboratories, museums, zoos and the Brandeis MakerLab — you will work with biologists, engineers and artists to explore intriguing life forms and develop the quantitative tools needed to work at the intersection of form and function. You will design a nature-inspired product to solve an important societal problem. And you will present your concept to the Brandeis and local scientific communities in an interactive, TED-like forum.

Expand All / Collapse All

Ideal for

This program is suited for students across disciplines with an interest in the natural world and a desire to solve problems creatively. It may be particularly appealing to students in Biology, Biological Physics, Environmental Studies or HSSP.


BIOL 43bj - Comparative Anatomy

Description: Drawing from comparative anatomy and functional morphology, this course is designed to provide an overview of the form and function of organisms and provide a base on which to build further study organismal biology. Students will be introduced to the basics of the development, cellular make-up, evolution and function of the anatomy of many eukaryotes including vertebrates, fungi and plants anatomy. While the focus will be to examine these topics at the level of organs, organ systems and whole organisms, connections will be made to the molecular and cellular levels of organization. It is expected that students who pass this course will understand all concepts such that they may integrate them with each other and apply them to novel situations. Laboratory dissections, an end-of-term oral presentation and short answer tests will aid in this goal.

BIOL 46aj - Biomechanics

Description: How do birds fly? Why do fish and paramecium swim differently? What is blood pressure? Why don’t trees fall over in the wind? This course is designed to provide an introduction to biomechanics at all scales and within a variety of taxonomic groups. Students will explore both fluid and solid mechanics and will be encouraged to apply their knowledge to understanding how physical properties impact our day-to-day lives. In-class participation, problem sets, and short answer tests will aid in this goal. This course will satisfy the quantitative reasoning requirement.

BIOL 153aj - Project Lab in Biomimetics/Bioinspiration

Description: In this course students will explore how the natural world has been used to inspire designs that solve real-world problems, work together to identify a problem, learn techniques they can use to design and build their own bio-inspired designs and present their products in a clear and accessible manner. This course will satisfy the oral presentation requirement.

Note: You will be required to have taken one or more of the following as prerequisites: BIOL 15b (formerly 22b), BIOL 16b (formerly 60b), or BIOL 23a.