This Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program will train biology and engineering students to learn from natural design - a process termed biological inspiration. In particular, trainees will discover principles that underlie how organisms move in complex environments, and learn to use those principles as inspiration to design human-engineered systems. Four focus areas for research opportunities include the mechanics of systems that locomote, their control mechanisms, the structure and function of their materials, and their evolution. A three-stage training program integrates with the research focus and is facilitated by a new Berkeley center - CiBER - the Center for interdisciplinary Biological-inspiration in Education and Research. Stage 1offers a customized core curriculum to develop a common scientific language, and to discover opportunities to contribute to and benefit from bio- and bio-inspired motion systems. Trainees will participate in a new research-based teaching laboratory where teams of biology and engineering students work together to make original biomechanical discoveries. This experience transitions them into Stage 2 where they begin research rotations and international experiences at leading European institutes guided by a "Bionics" network. In Stage 3, students learn the application of discovery through entrepreneurship courses and internships. Developing direct pipelines to a diverse group of undergraduates will encourage participation of women and underrepresented groups. Trainees in this IGERT will advance the field of motion science with research leading to novel inventions that may never have been considered by engineers such as gecko-inspired hairy adhesives, artificial muscles, new prostheses, and search-and-rescue robots. By sharing these advances with the public, non-scientists will see more clearly why we must preserve the diversity of species and their environments - before their secrets are lost forever. IGERT is an NSF-wide program intended to meet the challenges of educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers with the interdisciplinary background, deep knowledge in a chosen discipline, and the technical, professional, and personal skills needed for the career demands of the future. The program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education by establishing innovative new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Graduate Education (DGE)
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Richard Boone
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University of California Berkeley
United States
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