Internationally Renowned Biodesign Scholar to Headline Kent State Symposium

Just like the research that goes into understanding and applying a complicated concept like biodesign, holding an entire symposium devoted to it is no small undertaking.

So, when a world-renowned scholar on the subject agreed to come do some of the heavy lifting, Kent State University was elated to welcome her.

Kent State is pleased and grateful to announce Rachel Armstrong, Ph.D., of Newcastle University in the U.K. as keynote speaker for the 7th Annual Environmental Science and Design Symposium, themed "Biodesign: Designing with Life for Environmental Sustainability."

Rachel Armstrong, of Newcastle University (U.K.) stands near a beach at night.

Armstrong, Professor of Experimental Architecture at Newcastle's School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, will open the symposium with a gallery exhibition of her work, entitled "Parallel Biology," at 5 p.m. on March 16 at Kent State's College of Architecture and Environmental Design (CAED). To further spotlight this year's theme, student projects and posters from Kent State's Biodesign Challenge class will also be on exhibition at the CAED.

The following night, March 17, at 6 p.m. in the Kent Student Center KIVA, Armstrong will deliver her keynote address, entitled "Facing 21st century Nature: Configuring fresh approaches through Biodesign." A reception will immediately follow the address, in the Westfield Insurance Room (204 KSC) directly upstairs from the KIVA.

"We are extraordinarily fortunate to host a scholar like Rachel," said Diane Davis-Sikora, Associate Professor of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State, and Environmental Science and Design Research Initiative (ESDRI) co-director. "Her research is pioneering its contribution to this specialized body of knowledge, and her interdisciplinary approach to scholarship embodies everything we value and espouse at Kent State, both within this initiative and as a research university. It would be hard to imagine a better keynote speaker for this year's symposium."

Armstrong's collaborative, cross-disciplinary research focuses on designing and testing prototypes based on a new approach to building materials called ‘living architecture,' which suggests buildings may be able to share properties inherent in natural and living systems.

She is director and founder of the Experimental Architecture Group (EAG), whose work has been published widely as well as exhibited and performed globally, including prestigious Institutes in Venice, Tallinn, Trondheim, Paris, Catalonia, Amsterdam, New York University, and at home in Newcastle, U.K.

She also coordinated the $4.15-million Living Architecture project, an ongoing collaboration of experts from the universities of Newcastle, the West of England (UWE Bristol), Trento, Italy, the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid, LIQUIFER Systems Group in Vienna, and EXPLORA in Venice, Italy.

The next-generation, selectively programmable bioreactor is capable of extracting valuable resources from sunlight, wastewater and air, in turn generating oxygen, proteins and biomass. Living Architecture adapts and combines the standard principles of both photo bioreactor and microbial fuel cell technologies into a single, sequential hybrid bioreactor system, in which they work synergistically to clean wastewater, generate oxygen, provide electrical power and generate useable fertilizer.

Registration is now open for the ESDRI Symposium, which runs March 16-18 at the Kent Campus. For more details on other speakers, symposium activities, and registration, visit the symposium website.

Media Contact: Dan Pompili, 330-672-0731,

POSTED: Wednesday, February 26, 2020 11:23 AM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 10:47 AM
Dan Pompili