Biological Form+Function Lab Exploring the mechanics and mechanisms of biological design
Biological structures are amazingly robust and resilient - even anti-fragile - despite the great restrictions in materials and design. We investigate design principles of functional structures in living systems (structures such as plant shoots and hair-like slender bodies). We work primarily with plant systems, because they are full of clever strategies for survival. Being sessile, plants deal with the ever-changing environment by adjusting their body, via active sensing and responding to physical cues.
We are particularly interested in the roles that structure and mechanics play in biological problem solving. How do biological structures respond to the environment, and why? We study environmentally sensitive morphing structures, because of the unique opportunities they offer to unfold the functional significance of altered forms. How do the structural functions influence the construction and evolution of biological architecture? We learn by building, using fabrication (microfabrication, 3D printing) and bio-fabrication enabled by synthetic biology.
We actively apply our research for societal benefit in three areas: synthetic biology, biomimetic engineering, and sustainable agriculture. Adaptive biological structures are a great source of inspiration for 'smart' engineering solutions. We are investigating the potential of physical priming of crop resilience as a solution for sustainable and climate-smart agriculture. Our synthetic biology tools and protocols may catalyze regenerative plant cultures and cellular agriculture.
We support and promote diversity. We are a borderless group of researchers (in terms of scientific backgrounds, scales and types of problems, nationalities, food choices, and any other measures). Our research threads through several sub-fields of biological sciences and engineering, as well as design. We believe that diversity will bring about synergy, open mind, and out-of-box thinking.