Sustainable Innovation

In 2013 4-VA awarded Brook Kennedy, Dr. Jacquelyn Nagel and Dr. Arthur Buikema a mini-grant called Sustainable Innovation: Integrating Teams in Biology, Design and Engineering. In the spring of 2014 the team offered an undergraduate honors colloquium at Virginia Tech called “Integrating Biology and Design for Sustainable Innovation” (BDSI). The course served as the platform for researching and developing bioinspired design methodologies through a semester-long interdisciplinary team project. The course was offered to 12 undergraduate students equally representing biology, engineering and design and was taught collaboratively between Dr. Arthur Buikema and Brook Kennedy from VT with instrumental involvement from Dr. Jacquelyn Nagel at JMU. Dr. Nagel developed a similar course offered in parallel to BDSI in order take advantage of pooling resources and learning to develop courses collaboratively in the future.

In December 2014, 4-VA awarded the team with a scale-up grant called Manufacturing Innovation through Sustainable Design to continue researching the connection between form and function as found in nature. Integrating biological shape and form into product design minimizes material diversity and increases recyclability while still achieving the desired function.

Brooke Kennedy
Associate Professor of Industrial Design

Dr. Jacquelyn Nagel
Assistant Professor of Engineering

Dr. Arthur Buikema
Alumni Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences

Grant Info

  • Fall 2013 – VT and JMU were awarded $4,700 each for Sustainable Innovation: Integrating Teams in Biology, Design and Engineering.

  • Fall 2014 – JMU was awarded $15,000 and VT was awarded $5,000 for Manufacturing Innovation Through Sustainable Design.

  • September 2015 – Dr. Nagel was one of a team of researchers to receive a $48,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore pedagogical models that incorporate sustainability awareness and principles in engineering education and introduce them at universities in the Americas.

  • September 2015 – Dr. Nagel and Christopher Rose from the JMU Department of Biology received an NSF grant for $128,000 to research, develop, implement, assess and disseminate instructional resources for engineering faculty to teach bio-inspired design across disciplines.

Dr. Jacquelyn Nagel

Through an innovative curriculum and a variety of pedagogical approaches, we train students to have the cognitive flexibility to solve engineering challenges that transcend disciplinary boundaries.

Dr. Jacquelyn NagelAssistant Professor of Engineering

Benefits To The Commonwealth

Demonstrated Virginia’s impact on global issues

Developed new models for teaching and learning

Improved and enhanced student performance, retention, and success in STEM programs at Virginia universities

Maximized university resources

Received recognition and funding from a national government agency


External Grant Awards


in External Funding