In the time since Janine Benyus’ book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature was published in 1997, biomimicry has emerged as a thriving discipline, inspiring thousands to build their careers and lives around nature-inspired design. In a new blog series called Meet a Biomimic, we aim to introduce the individuals that make up this movement. From thought leaders to those just learning how to ‘ask nature,’ this community is full of talented, passionate, and smart innovators who are making revolutionary change in all corners of the world. Find out what drives them and how they’re working to build a more regenerative future.
Meet Alex Ralevski, a postdoctoral associate at Yale University who conducts translational research in plant biology and neuroscience. Her current work focuses on understanding fundamental biological mechanisms and their translation and practical application to animal and human biology. Alex is a contributing writer to AskNature.org, where she helps curate content on biological strategies and the ideas they’ve inspired. To learn more about Alex’s research, check out the video below where she explains how plants that thrive in salty seawater can teach us how to design better ways of providing fresh drinking water in drought-prone areas.
How did you get to where you are today? What paths led you to biomimicry?
I first started learning about biomimicry through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and their vision for a circular economy. The more I learned about biomimicry, the more I realized the importance of understanding and learning about nature. I began volunteering as a contributing writer for AskNature.org, where I continue to publish content on biological strategies and biomimicry-inspired products.
What advice do you have for others who are looking to enter the field of biomimicry or hoping to incorporate it into their work?
Read and educate yourself about different biological strategies, as well as the basic principles of biomimicry. Also, spend time in nature. Bring a blank notebook and a pen or some colored pencils and immerse yourself in the natural world, take some time to document what you see, and start thinking critically. Ask yourself, “How does nature do that?” and “Why does nature do that?”, and you will be amazed and what you find.
What kind of people are you looking to collaborate with?
Artists, engineers, architects, scientists, systems designers, or anyone who is interested in using biomimicry to improve their work and ideas.
What have been some of the most helpful resources for you?
AskNature, Biomimicry Institute and Biomimicry 3.8, PubMed, Google Scholar, TedTalks, The Biomimicry Resource Handbook, Comparative Biomechanics (Steven Vogel)
What is your favorite quote?
“The artist sees what nature hides.”
The Meet a Biomimic video above was created to support the EcoRise/Biomimicry Institute biomimicry curriculum for high school students. If you’re an educator and want to learn more about how to incorporate biomimicry into your courses, check out this free Biomimicry Global Design Challenge curriculum module and the full Biomimicry and Science curriculum.