Meet the 2024 Launchpad Participants

The Biomimicry Launchpad program helps scientists, innovators, and designers bring their nature-inspired ideas into reality. It is our great pleasure to introduce to you the extraordinary 2024 cohort.

These twenty creative souls have come together from the far reaches of our planet to support and learn from each other as they pursue meaningful and sustainable solutions to our most pressing challenges. They embody multidisciplinarity and diversity, representing a broad mix of unique skills, backgrounds, and practices. They are united by their curiosity and love of learning, and by their commitment to reciprocity with the living world.

This cohort will explore their individual research, innovations, and art while also collaborating with each other asking deep questions and developing collective processes. Together, they will push the boundaries of innovation and creativity, drawing from nature’s genius and translating it into ideas that will shape a regenerative future.

Paige Perillat-Piratoine

With a background in Geography and Futures Design, Paige Perillat-Piratoine operates at the intersection of Nature Tech and materials. She co-founded Electric Skin, crafting a self-powering biomaterial that generates electricity from humidity using protein nanowires from bacteria. She is also Head of Ecosystem at Nature Tech Collective, and works at animating the bold professionals working at the edges of disciplines and sectors to create technologies that better align with the more-than-human world.

Rakkiyappan Chandran

Rakkiyappan Chandran is the co-founder and CTO of Supercarb Inc., where he leads the conversion of carbohydrates from waste feedstocks into innovative biodegradable fibers using advanced technology. He is an accomplished scientist with over 5 years of experience in textile and additive manufacturing. Chandran holds a PhD in Nanoscience from the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN), UNCG. His expertise was developed through research at The Wellman Center for Photomedicine, MGH, Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women's Hospital, MIT. He has authored over 20 peer-reviewed publications, acquiring more than 2,000 citations. Chandran aims to advance sustainable materials through biomimicry for a more eco-friendly future.

Michelle Lowe-Holder

Michelle Lowe-Holder is a sustainable designer, researcher and educator. Specialising in materials innovation and making, her work spans industry and community-based projects. For the past decade her practice has focused on material preserving where value perception and product longevity is elevated thru craft and design. In 2022 she graduated from CSM MA Bio Design and is currently integrating closed loop biodegradable materials alongside waste streams to reduce and utilise resources efficiently and aesthetically for a more sustainable future.

Jamil Quarless

Jamil Quarless, a 2023 Innovate UK awardee and graduate of Biological Sciences, pursues forming alternative frameworks for tackling Systemic Issues. Through the formation of Marrow Corpus, his research centres on supporting Climate Justice in the Caribbean. In working with Community-led Cooperatives he has seen the benefits of moving away from systems of Hegemony and towards those that are more inclusive and considerate. By incorporating Biomimicry, Ontology, Transition Design and Localised Knowledge into social settings, Jamil and Marrow Corpus aim to leverage community as a driving force for change.

Tica Lubin

Tica Lubin received her Master of Art in Sustainable Design and a certificate in Biomimetic Design from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She works at Regen Network pushing boundaries in refi thinking to support ecosystem resilience. Tica divides her time between the mountains in Lake Tahoe, CA and the exploring the ocean in Baja Sur. She embraces the differences in these ecosystems noting how organisms have learned to thrive in each extreme. Through the biomimetic lens, she looks to build on her deep background in art and science communication with the goal of sharing her observations of how organisms function and communicate within larger ecosystem to inform how humans values, designs, and behaviors can manifest in ways that are symbiotic with healthy diverse ecosystems. Tica loves exploring the the world through hiking, skiing, surfing, swimming, sketching, reading, and conversing with a curious, open, and playful mind. She is constantly awed, energized, and inspired by nature.

Daniel Panameño

Daniel Panameño Corvera is an architect graduated from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, with studies in photography from La Academia de Artes Visuales. In recent years, he has specialized in developing environmentally-focused projects using computational design tools such as Rhinoceros and Grasshopper. He has worked with the bamboo design studios Bambuterra and Arquitectura Mixta and has participated in design and construction workshops with Raíz Arquitectura and Programming with Python by El Tecnológico de Monterrey. He is currently based in Bacalar, working as Design Manager in Jaime Peña Studio.

Elena Stachew

Elena is Director of Operations and Lead of Sustainability & Environment at Citadel Impact Consulting, a consulting firm specializing in growing capacity and impact of mission-based organizations and social enterprises. Elena is also finishing her PhD in Integrated Biosciences and Biomimicry at The University of Akron, in which her PhD is on hybrid biological – engineering approaches to coastal restoration in the Great Lakes. Through Citadel Impact Consulting, Elena manages regional non-partisan strategy for Power A Clean Future Ohio, does grant writing for local municipalities and community-based organizations, direct on-the-ground community engagement and strategy advising for municipal climate action plans, and climate change education workshops for businesses and organizations through Climate Fresk. Elena has worked in the mining & manufacturing industry in technical service, research & development, and corporate sustainability, as well as on water treatment & distribution projects in Central America through Engineers Without Borders. Elena has been a Global Shaper since 2017, a Climate Reality Leader since 2022, a Climate Fresk facilitator since 2023, and is incoming Midwest USA Community Champion for the Global Shapers Community. Elena's background is a degree in polymer & materials science engineering from Case Western Reserve University. Elena believes in the power of people and nature and is a passionate advocate for local-led solutions, community-driven project design, and regenerative and multi-functional built landscapes that positively contribute to the rehabilitation of the natural world. Elena is based in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

Joe Cardiello

Joe Cardiello is a biochemist with a passion for studying the adjustments that cells make in order to survive changing conditions. Over the last decade, this interest has led Joe to study gene expression patterns and proteins involved in cellular stress responses in a variety of species ranging from mosses to mammals, and finally to salamanders. Throughout his research projects, Joe has worked primarily as a research generalist: involving himself in the lab from raising cells or animals through preparing next generation sequencing (NGS) libraries and analyzing the data with a variety of bioinformatic packages and custom analyses. Though his recent projects have been focused on basic biology and tool development, Joe relishes brainstorming how each project might one day contribute to advances in public health or biomimetic inventions. When he’s not doing science, Joe enjoys cooking and dabbling in a wide range of outdoor activities.

Sarah Mok

Sarah is a designer and a researcher exploring materials and form as an interface between the body and the built environment. Having worked as both a designer in activewear and safety wear apparels, she recognises the need for modern materials to be a site for design innovation and cultural engagement. With the belief that textiles and materials can be more sensitive to the changing environment, she draws inspiration from natural living systems and patterns found in nature to create new surfaces and materials that are dynamic, responsive, and smart. By merging art, design, and technology, her goal is to design new materials and functionalities that serve to be an extension of the body, an epidermal interface that can help advocate our senses and adaptation to the changing environment. She envisions a future where materials can be more empathetic, from the liminal spaces we occupy to the physical and digital environments we interact with.

Hannah Trimble

Hannah Trimble is a multi-disciplinary designer passionate about working at the intersection of wildlife conservation, culture and design. She recently founded a design studio, Blue Dot Design, that helps scientists communicate their research with compelling data visualizations, and product design that reconnects people with nature. Aligning design with nature’s principles and an endless curiosity of the beauty and mutualistic relationships found in life grounds her work. She holds a Masters of Industrial Design at Pratt in New York City and Global Innovation Design at Royal College of Art and Imperial College London with a focus on design engineering, and Keio University in Tokyo with a focus on future technologies.

Lucca Mancilio

"Lucca is a PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, passionate about sustainability and accessibility to a clean environment. At the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, he became fascinated by the genius that 3.8 billion years of evolution produced across the tree of life, and how these biological systems so elegantly resolve problems that humanity is still struggling with. Lucca now pursues his PhD in Microbiology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, applying biomimicry principles to address issues in water quality and environmental justice. To do this, he uses indigenous microbes to form biofilms that remove phosphorus and other contaminants from polluted waters, and release it back into a recovery stream as an added value product. This combination of microbial ecology, conservation and environmental engineering emulates the natural phosphate cycle to support a circular economy. One man's trash is another man's treasure, and this is the heart of his work, in providing clean water for people, while contributing to conservation and strengthening the economy."

Yael Lina

Yael Lina is an industrial designer specialized in technological product development and entrepreneurship. She co-founded Tsobra, an ecological services company, has worked with several clients and her projects have been exhibited in local and international events. In 2021, she was awarded the 'Best Design Project at Reducing Inequalities' by the United Nations and Diseña Mexico. Throughout her creative process, she prioritizes systemic analysis, usability, CMF design (color, material, finishes) and additive-manufacture prototyping. She is currently seeking to incorporate biomimicry tools to generate not only an attractive offering for the client, but also to encourage reciprocity towards the natural ecosystems and those who inhabit them.

Pham Huy Nguyen

Pham Huy Nguyen is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratory of Sustainability Robotics at Empa, Switzerland and a visiting researcher at the Aerial Robotics Lab at Imperial College London, UK. His research is focused on the development of various novel physically intelligent, bio-inspired aerial robotic platforms that utilize soft sensing and actuation schemes. Nguyen graduated with his Ph.D. from Arizona State University, developing wearable soft Superlimbs inspired by elephant trunk biomimicry through soft robotic devices for third arm capabilities. Before that, his studies saw him graduate from Bangkok, Thailand in 2013, as well as France and Italy in 2015 with degrees in Mechatronics and Robotics. Nguyen is actively seeking a faculty position in robotics at a research-focused institution studying the connection between biomimicry, robotics, material science, sustainability, and ecological/biodiversity conservation.

Rae Lewark

Rae Lewark is an ecologist currently performing ecological information translation in the systems design industry. Having performed research on arachnid biodiversity, the anthropomorphic influence of ecologies in film and literature, and the translation of ecological information to human systems, Rae operates within the human-nature interface. An advocate for invertebrates, she seeks opportunities to bring arthropod knowledge to biomimetic design. A freedive athlete and trainer, she believes strongly that the reintegration of humans and the environment begins with reconnecting to nature. If she isn’t writing about ecology, or hunting down new spider species, you can find her enjoying the underwater world.

Marco Leitão

Marco is an architect interested in the art of design, with a special focus on the innovative possibilities of construction. Born in Portugal, he studied in both Italy and Portugal, obtaining an Architecture Masters degree at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto. During his academic journey, he joined the DFL | Digital Fabrication Laboratory, where he was involved on several projects involving digital fabrication technologies. As a professional background, he has collaborated with diverse architecture studios based in Portugal, developing a wide range of projects. Driven by constant questioning, he balances his days between architectural practice and researching new ways to make a building more regenerative and less dependent on the same old formulas. More recently, he has been focusing on how to reuse the materials of the site, conducting tactile experiments with materials, tools and construction methods in pursuit of his long-term goal: to design and build a fully functional house using only the natural resources of the site, wherever it may be. Since the answer lies in nature, we can always find him in the great outdoors, hiking, swimming or cycling.

Meiting Guo

Meiting Guo is a seasoned professional with over 10 years of academic experience in China, alongside international stints in Berkeley, US, and Sydney, Australia. After moving to Ausralia with her small family, her career has spanned roles such as process engineer in a consulting firm and technology and innovation specialist at a water utility, consistently focusing on water issues. Meiting values integrity, growth, innovation, and collaboration, which drive her passion for water, the environment, and human welfare. Committed to advancing water resilience and sustainability, she advocates for nature-based solutions in her future endeavors. Outside of work, Meiting enjoys hiking, outdoor yoga, reading, and connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Pranav Khandelwal

Pranav is a Virginia Tech Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow. He received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2021). His Ph.D. focused on providing a holistic understanding of gliding in flying lizards where he integrated aspects of sensing, morphology, and the environment to understand how it shapes the gliding behavior of the lizard. After his Ph.D., Pranav spent three years in Germany working at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (2021-24) and the University of Stuttgart (2023-24). During this time, he worked on using robotic platforms to test animal locomotion hypotheses and develop Computer Vision techniques to track the position and behavior animals using drones. Pranav's research operates at the interface of biology, physics, and engineering, using insights and techniques from each to explore movement in biological systems, and translate them to robotic or conservation applications.

Juliette Zidek

Juliette Zidek (she/her) is an architect and PhD researcher at the University of Michigan where she studies new methods of regenerative design and construction using advanced digital design and fabrication technologies. Juliette holds a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from the University of Illinois with a minor in environmental studies, a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois with a focus in engineering, and a Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan in Digital and Material Technologies. Prior to her PhD studies, Juliette worked as a designer and architect at Thornton Tomasetti, Perkins + Will, and Studio Gang in Chicago, IL. Her extensive experience in the AEC industry has driven Juliette to pursue scalable and adaptable solutions that promote the creation of healthy, resilient and equitable habitats for people and the more-than-human world. Juliette’s current research investigates the design of 3D printed bioreceptive building envelope systems that support biodiversity in urban areas while providing vital ecosystem services such as passive cooling, phytoremediation, water collection, and carbon sequestration. Inspired by the beauty, elegance, and resilience of natural systems, Juliette looks to nature as a teacher in her ongoing explorations, design work, and research.

Mats Kessel

Mats Kessel is a master's student, entrepreneur, consultant and ecologist. He is specialized in urban ecology and entrepeneurially focused on the development of biomimicry concepts, reaching the finals of the Student INNO challenge 2022 by WWF. He will finish his master programme, Bio Inspired Innovation at the Utrecht University in august 2024. After graduation he aspires to continue the biomimicry focused innovative ways through a start-up.

Kira Hunt

Bio coming soon!

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