Addressing Diverse Motivations to Enable Bioinspired Design

Integr Comp Biol. 2022 May 19:icac041. doi: 10.1093/icb/icac041. Online ahead of print.


Bioinspired design (BID) is an inherently interdisciplinary practice that connects fundamental biological knowledge with the capabilities of engineering solutions. This paper discusses common social challenges inherent to interdisciplinary research, and specific to collaborating across the disciplines of biology and engineering when practicing BID. We also surface best practices that members of the community have identified to help address these challenges. To accomplish this goal, we address challenges of bioinspiration through a lens of recent findings within the social scientific study of interdisciplinary teams. We propose three challenges faced in BID: (1) complex motivations across collaborating researchers, (2) misperceptions of relationships and benefits between biologists and engineers, and (3) institutionalized barriers that disincentivize interdisciplinary work. We advance specific recommendations for how to address each of these challenges.

Keywords: Bioinspired Design; Collaboration; Interdisciplinarity; Science Policy; Team Science.