What do Michael Phelps' sharkskin-inspired swimsuit, turbines modeled on whale fins and Velcro that mimics burrs have in common? Biomimicry - the study of nature's models for use in designs and processes to solve human problems. Janine Benyus, co-founder of Biomimicry 3.8, discussed the concept at an Oct. 18 joint Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources Seminar and Stanford Woods Institute Environmental Forum. "We're looking at this third industrial revolution, to do what nature does," Benyus said.

Benyus has introduced millions to biomimicry through TED talks, conference keynotes and documentaries such as "11th Hour," "Harmony" and "The Nature of Things with David Suzuki," which aired in 71 countries. She has received several awards including The Heinz Award 2011, Time Magazine’s Hero for the Planet Award 2008, United Nations Environment Programme’s Champion of the Earth for Science and Technology 2009, the Rachel Carson Environmental Ethics Award, the Lud Browman Award for Science Writing in Society, and the Barrows and Heinz Distinguished Lectureships. Benyus's work in biomimicry has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, Esquire, The Economist, Time, Wired, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Nature and other outlets. In 2010 BusinessWeek named Benyus one of the world’s most influential designers. In 2012 she received the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper‐Hewitt National Design Mind Award, given in recognition of a visionary who has had a profound impact on design theory, practice or public awareness. Read more