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Benyus to receive honorary degree

April 05, 2013

Janine Benyus will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa for her groundbreaking work specializing in biomimicry at the Arizona State University undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 9.  

In her book “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature,” Benyus names an emerging discipline that emulates nature’s designs and processes (e.g., solar cells that mimic leaves) to create a healthier, more sustainable planet. Since the book’s 1997 release, Benyus has evolved the practice of biomimicry, consulting with high-profile businesses and conducting learning seminars.

Benyus co-founded the world’s first bio-inspired consultancy, bringing nature’s sustainable designs to 250-plus clients, including Boeing, Colgate-Palmolive, Nike, General Electric, Herman Miller, HOK architects, IDEO, Interface, Natura, Procter and Gamble, Levi’s, Kohler and General Mills. As a result of working with Benyus’ team, the world’s largest commercial carpet manufacturer (Interface, Inc.) introduced a carpet line inspired by random pattern formation in nature. In record time, EntropyTM/I2 rose to become Interface’s top-selling product and now represents 40 percent of their carpet tile sales.

In 2006, Benyus co-founded a nonprofit institute to embed biomimicry in formal education and informal spaces such as museums and nature centers. More than 100 universities are now part of the Biomimicry Educator’s Network, introducing biology’s lessons to students who will one day design, engineer and manage our world. In 2008, the institute launched, an award-winning bio-inspiration site for inventors.

Benyus and her team combined the for-profit and nonprofit arms into a single B-Corp called Biomimicry 3.8. Working as a social enterprise, Biomimicry 3.8 is the world’s leader in biomimicry innovation consulting, training for professionals and curricula development for educators. Its mission is to inspire, educate and connect the growing community of biomimicry practitioners around the world.

Benyus has received several awards including The Heinz Award 2011, Time Magazine’s Hero for the Planet Award 2008, United Nations Environment Programme’s Champion of the Earth for Science and Technology 2009 and the Lud Browman Award for Science Writing in Society to name a few.  

Her work in biomimicry has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, Esquire, The Economist, Time, Nature and more. In 2010, BusinessWeek named Benyus one of the World’s Most Influential Designers. In 2012, she received the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Mind Award, given in recognition of a visionary who has had a profound impact on design theory, practice or public awareness.

An educator at heart, Benyus believes that the more people learn from nature’s mentors, the more they’ll want to protect them.