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Job: Director of Education, Biomimicry Institute, Montana

Apologies for Cross-Postings

Subject: job announcement that may interest someone
Date: Fri, 1 Dec 2006 15:03:36 -0500
From: "Schroeter, Dorna" <dschroeter@pnwboces.org>

Job Title: Director of Education, Biomimicry Institute

Location: Missoula, Montana

Start Date: January 2007

The mission of the Biomimicry Institute is to naturalize biomimicry in the culture by promoting the transfer of ideas, designs, and strategies from biology to sustainable human systems design.

Biomimicry is an innovation method that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature?s time-tested designs and strategies, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf.  Biomimics around the world are learning to: grow food like a prairie, make fibers like a spider, repel microbes (without antibiotic resistance) like kelp, gather fog-water like a beetle, and run a business like a redwood forest. Their models are organisms that manufacture without ?heat, beat, and treat? methods, and ecosystems that run on sunlight and feedback, creating opportunities rather than waste.

The goals of the Biomimicry Institute are to:

Position Summary:

The Biomimicry Institute seeks an individual who can manage a program to develop and implement Biomimicry curriculum for grades K ? 12 and university, a mid-career program for professionals, as well as materials for informal education settings such as museums and parks.  The goal is to work with a team of creative educators to develop and distribute curriculum, run a teach-the-teachers program, and cultivate a dynamic community of teachers that will pilot, test, improve, and recommend this program to other teachers.

The ideal candidate will have teaching and curriculum development experience.  Preference will be given to individuals who also have a background in biology and interdisciplinary experience with designers, engineers, or architects.  Candidates must have a demonstrated interest in sustainability and innovation.  This position requires an individual who is comfortable with and excited about working in a dynamic environment with professionals from multiple disciplines, including educators, scientists, designers, architects, engineers and business professionals. We seek an open-minded individual who values professionalism, creativity, systems-thinking, and having fun.

Primary Position Responsibilities Include

·       Developing educational modules for K-12, university and exhibits based on function-specific research using a multi-disciplinary team approach

·       Gathering appropriate individuals for a multi-disciplinary team approach to module development

·       Coordinating and tracking educational efforts among universities incorporating biomimicry into courses and degrees

·       Organizing a bi-annual gathering of educational practitioners to share stories

·       Writing proposals to solicit funding for continued support of this program

·       Writing popular articles based on function-specific research

·       Collaborating with K-12 teachers in the field to test modules

·       Facilitating the growth and success of a two-year certificate program

Secondary Position Responsibilities Include

·       Presenting lectures and workshops on Biomimicry in Education

·       Writing articles on educational endeavors for quarterly newsletter

·       Participating in monthly conference calls with education practitioners

·       Coordinating community building efforts with other Institute staff

·       Coordinating and tracking educational endeavors with Biomimicry Europe

·       Identifying real world challenges for use in education endeavors (e.g. NineSigma, FIRST)

·       Attracting university biologists to annual BaDT training

·       Building the capacity of the Education program for the Biomimicry Institute


·       Teaching or education administration experience and/or academic education focus

·       Ability to track and coordinate a wide-variety of educational efforts

·       Demonstrated ability to coordinate and organize events and/or people

·       Strong research skills (literature, not lab) and an understanding of technical biology

·       Ability to take technical concepts and translate them into language (verbal and written) and exercises that non-biologists of all ages can understand and use

Desired Characteristics:

·       Love of nature

·       Demonstrated commitment to sustainability

·       Good at listening, both to people and to nature

·       Enthusiastic and fun to be around

·       Open and creative

·       Dependable and professional

·       Confident and able to inspire as a public speaker

·       Broad knowledge base about organisms

·       Interest and ability to work in multi-disciplinary groups

·       Self-starter

Position Specifics

This position is a full-time position with the Biomimicry Institute, a not-for-profit based in Missoula, Montana.  The position salary is competitive and based on qualifications with additional benefits and non-financial perks.   Please send a cover letter describing your interest in the position, a resume, contact information for at least 3 professional references and a relevant writing sample to careers@biomimicryinstitute.org .  Applications will be accepted through December 22nd.  Potential candidates will be contacted in early January for an interview.  

More About our Programs:

Education :

The Biomimicry Institute has a passion for both formal and informal public education from K-12 and university to museum exhibits, nature center programs, media, and publications. Wherever we teach biomimicry, we have the choice of teaching it as a separate subject, or incorporating it as a problem-solving method into any number of different subjects.  We feel that the latter is a more useful way of naturalizing biomimicry in the culture.  For instance, teachers can introduce biomimicry as a way to get ideas for green reactions in chemistry class, better structural designs in engineering class, or even better policy in economics class.  We think this integration of bio-inspired problem-solving into all subjects prevents the ?siloing? of biomimicry. 

What teachers tell us they need, in addition to a description of the biomimetic method, is access to biological information that will help inspire their students.  For this reason, the Institute would like to create ?biological know-how? modules that will simultaneously meet the needs of all of our educational efforts. An example might be a module on how nature filters and purifies water.  The module would contain information on nature?s champion filterers, such as mangroves, filter feeders, and kidneys, along with case studies of any technologies that have been inspired by these mentors.  The same module would serve several different educational venues.  For example, photos, content, and case studies might appear as a supplement to a water exhibit at a science museum. Project Wild! type curricula packets on the topic could be posted on the Biomimicry Portal, an on-line database of biological strategies classified by function, for easy distribution to K-12 teachers. Design studios helping direct designers toward specific biomimetic design solutions could also use the same theme-based content. Scientific content on water filtration would also be in the Biomimicry Portal, hopefully encouraging engineers and designers to research nature?s strategies for their designs.  Short articles for the media about the module topic will also be written.

K-12 Schools:

We fully recognize the need for a comprehensive K-12 approach to learning from nature. Our K-12 efforts thus far have focused on a grass-roots approach to bringing biomimicry into the schools through enthusiastic teachers around the continent. We have a pilot project in several California K-12 schools that is forming the beginnings of a module-based program that we intend to distribute widely. The Director of Education will be responsible for fostering the development of biomimicry-based curricular materials that meet national and district content standards in math, art, and the sciences and making the work publicly available.

Universities and Colleges:

We have been involved in Biomimicry Courses taught at Ontario College of Arts & Design, The Center for Biologically Inspired Design at Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Northern Illinois, California College of Arts and Crafts, and the University of Minnesota, College of Architecture. Another dozen courses are on-going at other institutions that we have been tangentially involved with. We have worked closely with the first five schools to set up biology-taught-functionally courses alongside bio-inspired design studios.  These are the only biology courses that most of these students will encounter in their university education!  We would like to grow this list by at least two schools every year by hosting train-the-trainers workshops in which experienced teachers from the first five schools meet with the next wave of teachers to pass on best practices. To spread the idea further, curricula and student projects will be posted on our Biomimicry Design Portal.


The Institute is developing the content for functionally specific topics that can be used by museums alongside new or existing exhibits. The goal is to create a sense of awe and wonder about the natural world and educate people about the successful strategies that have resulted in the ?survivors? we find on our planet today. Visitors will be able to see how these strategies can be applied to human challenges to create more sustainable technologies. For example, if an aquarium has a penguin exhibit, an adjacent biomimetic display would illustrate what architects are learning about insulating buildings by studying the penguin?s incredibly warm, waterproof feathers. A walk through an exhibit with these biomimicry examples will expose the visitor to thought-stimulating case studies and creative activities designed to allow the visitor to practice and explore a new source of inspiration­nature. A visitor to such an exhibit will:

Dorna L. Schroeter



Center for Environmental Education

Gary Liss       
Fax: 916-652-0485