Closing in on the month of September at CNIE

10 October 2019

September has been a very busy but nevertheless an exciting time for the Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering. Following several local outreach events at UCL for underrepresented groups in Summer, CNIE has engaged in a range of impactful events on the international stage throughout September that illustrate the growing impact of its ground-breaking research and unique methodology to attack our toughest challenges.

To progress the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UK’s Industrial Strategy, responsible innovation is essential and UCL’s Grand Challenge on Transformative Technology recognises this. The systematic Nature-Inspired Solutions for Engineering (NISE) methodology developed in the CNIE at UCL - together with its academic and industrial partners - is emerging as a compelling pathway to develop such transformative technology. Broadening research in Nature-Inspired Chemical Engineering (NICE), the NISE methodology uses the fundamental underpinning for desirable properties in natural systems (efficiency, resilience and scalability) to develop solutions that are applicable within the context of technology for society.

The CNIE has been key in launching a UK Knowledge Transfer Network on Nature-Inspired Solutions, kicked off in July. Early September, head of Department of Chemical Engineering and Director of EPSRC "Frontier Engineering" Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering (CNIE), Prof Marc-Olivier Coppens was invited to give a talk at the 3rd edition of the Reaction and Transport Expertise Symposium (RaTES), held on 3 September. Shortly after that, CNIE organised the 1st ECI Conference on Nature-Inspired Engineering where Marc-Olivier Coppens chaired the ECI-NIE conference, with co-chair Bharat Bhushan (OSU), welcoming world-leading practitioners and researchers from academia, national laboratories and industry to the conference with an interest in nature-inspired solutions for engineering. Watch this video here to gain an insight on the agenda packed week.

It then showcased its work at the UK/US/China Engineering Academies’ Grand Challenges Summit and summarised the centre’s vision in a “Voices” column in the first issue of the prestigious Cell Press’s “One Earth” journal. Between the 19-21 September, PhD candidate Nina Jotanovic showcased her work at the Biodesign Here Now exhibition. The exhibition was curated and organised by Open Cell, the first public research centre for consumer-facing biotechnology and bio-designers. On the 22-24 September, Marc-Olivier Coppens attended the 2nd international panel meeting on Mesoscience in Beijing, China. Under the leadership of Professor Jinghai Li (Institute for Process Engineering, IPE, at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and President of the National Science Foundation of China, NSFC), the Mesoscience programme aims to tackle challenging problems for which traditional bottom-up and top-down approaches do not suffice.

Coming to the end of the month, PhD candidate Malica Schmidt, presented her research on passive humidity absorption to improve regenerative life-support for missions to Mars and beyond at the 26th European Low Gravity Association (ELGRA) Symposium and General Assembly and 14th international conference on two-phase systems for space and ground applications. At the event, Malica was awarded Best Oral Presentation in Physical Sciences and 2nd Best Gravity Related Image. Malica also received a poster presentation prize at the ECI Conference on Nature Inspired Engineering, Italy, resulting in the win of an 3 awards over the duration of September.

The success of these events demonstrates the growing appreciation of nature-inspired engineering as an enabling methodology for innovation – and for hope in times where humanity faces some of its most daunting challenges. Industry is taking note as well, sponsoring several new projects that, in conjunction with EPSRC’s “Frontier Engineering” grant, support research on fundamental questions and training of individuals, as the CNIE is increasingly known as a place where diversity and integration thrive, promoting innovation via its unique methodology.

We hope that through this summary, you are provided with a taste of the centre’s vision; entrepreneurship as well as continuing collaborations with a wide range of industrial partners allow us to accelerate the translation of research findings into practice.

For more information, visit the UCL Chemical Engineering Department news feed and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to stay updated for upcoming exciting news.

Closing in on the month of September at CNIE