Green Harbors Project Director Wins $100,000 at Biomimicry Global Design Challenge

Office of Communications | November 08, 2017
Team NexLoop: Jacob Russo, Anamarija Frankić, and C. Mike Lindsey

Team NexLoop: Jacob Russo, Anamarija Frankić, and C. Mike Lindsey

Anamarija Frankić Part of Team NexLoop

Green Harbors Project Director Anamarija Frankić is part of the team that won the $100,000 Ray C. Anderson Foundation Ray of Hope Prize at last month’s Biomimicry Global Design Challenge. Team NexLoop, which also includes Jacob Russo and C. Mike Lindsey, also won the People’s Choice Award.

Biomimicry is the emulation of systems in nature to solve complex human problems. The challenge is an international design and accelerator program that crowd sources nature-inspired solutions.

“NexLoop is an impressive team across the board,” said John A. Lanier, executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. “They have a deep understanding of how biomimicry aids in the design process, and their plans for hyper local water capture and storage in urban settings could play a crucial role in scaling local, sustainable agriculture."

Team NexLoop worked for two years to design and prototype a modular product called AquaWeb that mimics the way living systems capture, store, and distribute water. The patent-pending product collects freely available rain and fog and uses passive strategies to store and distribute collected water so that urban farms, including greenhouses, indoor vertical farms, and container farms, can save energy and become more resilient to disturbances. 

Rendering showing the Aquaweb prototype

The team looked at how cribellate orb weaver spider webs collect fog from the air; how drought-tolerant plants like the crystalline ice plant store water, and how mycorrhizal fungi like the Jersey cow mushroom distribute water. The hexagonal nest structure of dwarf honey bees inspired AquaWeb’s modular design.

Frankić has taught biomimicry classes for years at UMass Boston, most recently in the Honors College. Her biomimicry course is the first biomimcry course globally that fulfills general education requirements for science. As an ecologist, biologist, sustainability, and biomimicry expert, Frankić brought the waste-energy-food nexus design and concept to the team. She also selected the species to learn from and apply biomimetic solutions.

Frankić met Russo, an architect and designer, and Lindsey, an urban farmer, in 2014 at a biomimicry workshop on Governors Island in New York Harbor that Frankić organized. Together their vision and mission is to design multifunctional biomimetic products and systems that will make local food production more resilient, affordable, and safe.

About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 17,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit www.umb.edu.

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