Research + Collaborations

As a campus-wide resource and forum for exploring the exciting connections between art, design and science, the Nature Lab is a hub for research, with staff and facilities to help support the increasing number of science courses offered at RISD. Students find a natural entry point here for addressing issues of sustainable living through biodesign – emerging areas of inquiry that include biomimetics, biophilic design and the use of natural and biological materials in architecture and building systems.

Field Connections

Field trips and exploration of the local ecosystem around Narragansett Bay fosters a greater understanding of biodiversity and our own place as humans in the natural world.

Living Systems + Biodesign

Students who make use of the Nature Lab gain a systematic understanding of the biological and physical factors that define life on earth.


Deeply encoded in each of us through evolution, biophilia is the instinctive bond humans feel with other living systems. People generally respond positively to natural aspects of the environment...


Through 3.8 billion years of research and development, nature is able to produce remarkable designs. Each species on earth is born with the ability to make physical and behavioral adaptations...

Imaging + Visualization

While students continue to make use of our natural history collections for drawing, painting and researching various aspects of design in nature, our micro-imaging and Geographic Information...


Exploring nature is intrinsically interdisciplinary; however, the ways in which we ask questions about the world are often not. Problem solving can be restricted by a narrow field of focus, which...


The Nature Lab’s myriad collections offer endless inspiration for personal and collaborative projects, along with class assignments.

View the Nature Lab's collections.

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The RISD Nature Lab is an EPSCoR|C-AIM Core Research Facility supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #OIA-1655221 and EAGER Grant Award #1723559. ​​​Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this site are those of the Nature Lab and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.​

© 2024 Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab at Rhode Island School of Design