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Looking to Nature to Solve Complex Problems with Katie Losey (Episode #178)

Did you know that many of the design and engineering problems we face today have actually already been solved through millions of years of evolution, by nature itself? Katie Losey, a science writer, is passionately advocating for the use of biomimicry—the study and application of nature’s hidden genius—in modern-problem solving.



About Our Guest:

Katie Losey is not your average science enthusiast. With a career spanning two decades at the intersection of business and conservation, Losey is becoming an impactful voice for the wonders of biomimicry. Her journey has taken her from the bustling streets of New York City to the serene landscapes of Rwanda and Norway, where she’s had the privilege of witnessing nature’s brilliance firsthand: locking eyes with gorillas, studying urban rats, and even swimming with killer whales.

Katie’s curiosity is quickly becoming a gift to our shared future, and we are so proud to have the opportunity to chat with her about why this underappreciated aspect of design and engineering could be the key to our recovery, walking us back from the missteps we’ve made in former attempts at “human progress.”  

Katie Losey’s passion shines through in her work with the Biomimicry Institute, where she has been a guest author since 2019. Through her engaging writing and storytelling, she helps to demystify this often complex subject, and make it accessible to a wider audience. I am personally a devoted reader of their newsletter, and I can tell you, if you want way more joy and less fear in your media life, the communications from the Biomimicry Institute are a great place to start.

Losey’s most important contribution lies in her ability to connect people with the wonders of the natural world. She brings a sense of wonder and curiosity to everything she does, and it’s this passion for exploration and discovery that fuels her advocacy, and inspires others to see the world through new eyes.

The foundational principle of Biomimicry rests on a simple yet profound concept: Mother Nature has already invested 3.8 billion years of design R&D to create hundreds of millions of solutions for other creatures on earth, and if we get curious, we can use those solutions to solve some of our own most vexing problems. By studying and emulating these natural processes, systems and materials, engineers and innovators can create more sustainable, efficient, and elegant designs.

Take, for example, the case of a famous fastener: In the 19402, inspired by the tiny hooks found on burdock seeds that cling to clothing and animal fur, Swiss engineer George de Mestral invented a pair of twin fabrics that stick together in the same way. Today, Velcro is a ubiquitous fastening system, used in everything from clothing to aerospace applications, all thanks to nature’s original design. 

There are countless other examples, too; we recently discovered that shark skin has some natural antibacterial properties that we can tap into, and that spiderwebs have a relative resilience and strength ten times that of steel. In fact, one particularly exciting area of biomimicry is in the field of structural engineering. Nature has perfected the art of building strong, lightweight structures that can withstand the harshest environments, and by studying natural materials like bone, wood, and shells, engineers can design buildings and bridges that are not only stronger, but also more sustainable.

Biomimicry goes far beyond simple imitation; it involves understanding the underlying principles behind nature’s solutions and applying them in novel ways. This approach has led to groundbreaking innovations in fields such as architecture, materials science, and even robotics.

In a world facing unprecedented challenges, from climate change to resource depletion, biomimicry offers a ray of hope. By harnessing the power of nature’s genius, we can create a more sustainable and harmonious future for generations to come—and thanks to passionate advocates like Katie Losey, those wonders are more accessible than ever before.

As we look to the future, let us remember the lessons of biomimicry and embrace the wisdom of nature. The blueprints for a brighter tomorrow lie in the intricate web of life that surrounds us right now.

References Mentioned:


  • 00:00 – Intro & Welcome
  • 03:08 – What is Biomimicry?
  • 09:27 – The Earth Calendar Analogy
  • 12:24 – Ways Biomimicry Can Lead to True Progress
  • 18:50 – The Elegant Simplicity of Nature
  • 22:55 – Break
  • 25:12 – Katie’s Journey into Biomimicry
  • 32:15 – Regenerative Solutions
  • 36:00 – Carl Sagan’s Quote About Stardust
  • 41:22 – We Are Nature
  • 44:36 – What Should People Do Next?
  • 48:30 – Closing

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