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within both academia and industry, we interviewed Dr. Nagel who has experience working in both settings. We hoped to gain insight from her on how a biomimicry tool could be useful in both contexts. She shared that “facilitating the interaction between the engineer and the biological information so that it may be easier for the designer to make the necessary connections or analogies leading to bio-inspired designs” is paramount for successful biomimicry tools. To this end, Dr. Nagel developed the Engineering-to-Biology (E2B) Thesaurus that enables “an engineering designer that has limited knowledge of biology to search for and discover biological inspiration using engineering terms,” and vice versa. This aligned with our view that involving multiple disciplines in the biomimicry process and tool development would greatly benefit practice in many cases. Another unique perspective we gained was from the PeTaL (Periodic Table of Life) team at NASA Glenn Research Center. The PeTaL team is working to develop an automated design tool to streamline the nature-inspired design process and promote deeper understandings of natural systems. PeTaL will ultimately be structured around an ontology based on natural structures, functions, behaviors, and environments. Principal Investigator Dr. Vikram Shyam,

expressed his view that “humans aren’t good at making connections,” and that ontologies help us represent real world entities through hierarchies and relationships. He further explained that ontologies aid in tracing and identifying how seemingly small factors impact the larger system. He suggested that ontologies can be used as tools to ultimately aid humans in decision making. A final perspective we find important to note is the biologist's perspective. Many projects referenced as biomimicry are being developed with limited input from biologists and sometimes use nature's inspiration as a marketing strategy for industry. By removing biologists from the equation, the project scope is limited to a small subset of biological strategies. This is probably one of the reasons why numerous biomimicry projects mostly exploit a few known and recurrent biological strategies. On the other hand, biologists can help unlock knowledge beyond what is easily accessible and can be defined as common knowledge, specifically during the identification of biological models and the abstraction of biological principles (see McInerney et al., 2018 for more information about the importance of biologists in the biomimicry process). The University of Akron Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center is actively bringing

Zygote Quarterly 25 | vol 1 | 2019 | ISSN 1927-8314 | Pg 105 of 118

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