Geologist Marcia Bjornerud Discusses “Geomimicry ” in Lawrence University Convocation

APPLETON, WIS. — Applying a geological twist to biomimetics, Marcia Bjornerud discusses how the concept of turning to natural living systems as templates for good design could be applied to building new and sustainable institutions and infrastructures in a Lawrence University convocation.

Bjornerud, professor of geology and the Walter Schober Professor in Environmental Studies at Lawrence, presents “Geomimicry: Good Design from the Earth” Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. She also will conduct a question-and-answer session at 2 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center cinema. Both events are free and open to the public.

Marcia%20Bjornerud_web.jpgBjornerud was selected for the 2009-10 convocation series as the first recipient of Lawrence’s new Faculty Convocation Award. Chosen by President Beck from nominations collected by the Committee on Public Occasions, recipients for the award are selected for the high quality of their professional work.

Since the start of the industrial revolution, Bjornerud argues, Western technology has tended to treat nature as an adversary to be defied or circumvented, an attitude that has led to many of the environmental problems we face today. She will discuss how “geomimicry” — borrowing design ideas from the long-term habits of the Earth — can be a guiding principle in rethinking social, economic and agricultural policies.

“Environmental abuses and social injustices are arguably both rooted in a distorted sense of the relationship between humans and the natural world,” says Bjornerud.

A structural geologist who joined the Lawrence faculty in 1995, Bjornerud was appointed the first holder of the endowed Schober professorship in 2007. She has been the recipient of two Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowships, including one earlier this year that supported four months of research on ancient seismic events in New Zealand along the South Island’s Alpine Fault.

She previously was recognized as a Fulbright Scholar in 2000 when she was awarded a fellowship for a year of field research on the west coast of Norway.

Bjornerud is the author of “The Blue Planet,” a science textbook and “Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth,” in which she provides a tour of “deep time,” chronicles the planet’s changes and examines the toll human activity is exacting on Earth.

She was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2003 and was recognized with Lawrence’s Excellence in Scholarship or Creative Activity Award in 2007.

Prior to joining the Lawrence faculty, Bjornerud spent six years in the geology department at Miami University in Ohio. She earned a bachelor’s degree in geophysics at the University of Minnesota and an M.A. and Ph.D. in geology at the University of Wisconsin.