The Nature Lab is Building a Biodesign Maker Space

We have won $280,000 in support from the National Science Foundation EAGER (EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research) program to help develop a new biodesign maker space in the Waterman Building. The space will provide an immersive environment for students to engage in hands-on design projects that cultivate a working knowledge of biology and natural systems. This biodesign lab will serve as a prototype to inform the design and operation of a larger facility that creatively supports study of living systems and promotes novel approaches to art + design in line with sustainability and health.

Led by the lab’s Biological Programs Designer Jen Bissonnette and supported by co-principal investigators Paul Sproll—head of RISD’s Teaching + Learning in Art + Design (TLAD) department— and Associate Professor of Interior Architecture Eduardo Duarte, the nature-rich space will allow RISD and K–12 students to engage with biological sciences beyond the traditional STEM curriculum.

We envision a studio lab where students can pilot human-scale biotechnologies to address social and environmental issues such as air and water pollution.
Nature Lab Director, Neal Overstrom

Schedule for the Biodesign Maker Space Project:

SPRING 2018: DESIGN PROTOTYPING
A Spring 2018 Interior Architecture course will move the best ideas generated during Wintersession from concept to detailed, construction-ready designs, producing a series of prototypes in collaboration with the team at Co-Works, RISD’s fabrication lab.

SUMMER 2018: DESIGN INSTALLATION
The two studio courses will be followed by a 10-week build session that will involve undergraduate and graduate students, staff from RISD Facilities, and independent contractors.

FALL 2018: BIODESIGN CURRICULA EXPLORATION
Once the physical space is complete, Paul Sproll will lead grad level TLAD students in using the lab to develop K–12 curricula focused on biodesign in relationship to real world problems.

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