Biodesign Challenge 2021

University of Minnesota Science Communication Lab

About the Biodesign Challenge

The Biodesign Challenge (BDC) is an international education program and competition that aims to “seed the first generation of biodesigners.” For six months, teams of high school and university students explore the world of biotechnology. Each team develops an innovative project within the field of biodesign that solves a real-world problem or critiques a social issue.

The competition culminates in the BDC Summit held each June, where teams present their solutions to judges, industry leaders, and an online audience of thousands. This year, the summit will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Overall Winner of the BDC takes home the Glass Microbe, created by artist Luke Jerram.

Meet the Team

Our team is made up of six undergraduate interns from the Science Communication Lab at the University of Minnesota.

Alvina Salim

Alvina Salim

Design Intern

Reed Grumann

Reed Grumann

Writing Intern

Kyle Wong

Kyle Wong

Writing Intern

Rose Lam

Rose Lam

Graphic Design Intern

Charlie Kidder

Charlie Kidder

Writing Intern

Getting Started

Today was the first meeting for the 2021 Biodesign Challenge. To get started, we watched the videos of the winning teams from last year. We discussed our thoughts on their projects and took notes on winning qualities they had in common. After learning about what the Biodesign Challenge entails, we discussed the meaning of concepts and terms relevant to our project topic. We broadly defined biodesign as ‘mimicking a biological process to synthesize a product.” We also connected the terms biomimicry (using a biological process as a model to produce materials) and biophilia (designing something with biology and nature in mind) to biodesign. These issues include social norms, environmental...

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Our Guiding Principles

There are four principles we are keeping in mind as we develop our solution.

Our solution will address UN Sustainable Development Goal #11.

UN Sustainable Development Goal #11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Specifically, we will focus on the topic of access to green space in urban areas.

Our solution will take a socio-ecological approach.

During the design process, we will consider how our solution affects the wellbeing of both humans and ecosystems.

Our solution will be a tangible design or product.

BDC projects aren’t required to have a tangible end product; some teams take a more social critique-focused approach. After some discussion, our team decided that we would rather create a solution that people could theoretically use for a defined purpose.

Our solution could use biophilic or biomimetic design.

Biophilia is the concept that human instinct leads us to favor nature and the environment.

Biomimicry is a strategy for design thinking and problem solving that looks to biological features/processes for inspiration.

Project Updates

Choosing a Primary Focus

Choosing a Primary Focus

  In the last meeting, we identified four areas to consider in our planning: community gardens, urban green space, participatory design, and road salt alternatives. In today’s meeting, we chose...

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BDC Update: Narrowing It Down

BDC Update: Narrowing It Down

For the past several weeks, we have explored many subjects within the realm of biodesign. Now, it’s time to narrow down our areas of interest into a central project. At today’s meeting, each of us...

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Awe of Green Space

Awe of Green Space

In a world made of concrete and various impermeable surfaces, a patch of green can mean much more than a slice of grass. Green is natural and it’s vital for human health. It can be a beacon of...

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Want to learn more? Contact us here.

SCL is a part of the BioTechnology Institute in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

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