Bio-inspired design and Sustainability Talk | Virtual Event

July 20, 2020

The event has passed, but watch the conversation in its entirety below.

Join us as we discuss bio-inspired design methods and gain insights into approaching and capturing solutions from nature without having to seclude oneself to Walden Pond or become proficient in biology. We will also dive into how the bio-inspired viewpoint can align itself with sustainability.

Our panel:

Ann Gerondelis

Ann Gerondelis

Ann Gerondelis AIA, IDSA is the Head of the Design Department in Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. A passionate design evangelist, and inclusive leader, she draws on her broad range of experiences in educational innovation and design in multiple disciplines. 

Ann is an architect and practiced for 12 years before joining the National University of Singapore, then later the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her work in design representation related to inquiry fueled curricular innovations in Industrial Design, Architecture and Building Construction. Funded research projects include the development of a high school Bio-Inspired Design Learning Community, Design Integrated with Middle School STEM Courses, and the design of Bio-Inspired Design learning tools. She is a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE Woman of Excellence Faculty Award.

Professor Gerondelis leads a wide range of disciplines in the Design Department including undergraduate programs in Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Product Design, Photography, and Design & Merchandising, and graduate programs in Retail & Merchandising and Fashion Design. 

Ann remains fascinated by embodied perception and its relationship to the design of human experiences – from the scale of the built environment to objects that surround us.

Raja Schaar

Raja Schaar
Raja Schaar, IDSA is Program Director and Assistant Professor of Product Design at Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. She is an industrial designer with an extensive background in museum exhibit design who is passionate about ways design can make positive impact intersections with health, the environment, and education.

Raja currently leads two collaborative research projects. She works with faculty from Drexel’s College of Nursing and Design and Merchandising Programs the development of low-cost wearables for maternal health. She is co-PI on an interdisciplinary research project funded by the US Department of Education Promise Neighborhood Grant entitled “Black Girls STEAMing through Dance,” where she works with students and faculty from Drexel's departments of Computing and Informatics, Dance, and the School of Education to uncover STEAM identities, literacies, and self-concept in African American girls through the development of wearable technology. Raja is also PI on a Venturewell Faculty Grant that connects Product Design, Biomedical Engineering, and Entrepreneurship to examine the role of clinical immersion on product innovation on campus.  

As an educator, Raja works to infuse Drexel’s Product Design Curriculum with human-centered design principles that address impactful, real-world problems. She teaches a number of traditional and research-based studios across the curriculum, but her favorite courses to teach are Interdisciplinary Product Design, Bio-Inspired Design and Sustainability, Design and Waste, and Wearables for Health.

Before joining Drexel's Product Design faculty, Raja taught at Georgia Tech School of Industrial Design and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at GA Tech and Emory University. Raja received her BSID from Georgia Tech in 2001 and completed her graduate work at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003.


Panelist with Becky Scheel (Harmonic) in Gamboa, Panama for the 2019 Digital Naturalism Conference.

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