Honored to have been invited to give our department’s graduate seminar later today, I’m looking forward to it! Feel free to stop by if you’re around, I’ll be talking about my research regarding “Using biological inspiration to improve the design of complex human-engineered networks.”
Brief description: Biological ecosystems have been through millions of years of R&D, producing complex networks of interacting species that are able to support individual needs while maintaining system-level functions. In this talk, Dr. Layton will show that these networks offer a relatively untapped source of design inspiration for improving the sustainability and resilience of our human-engineered networks. Quantitative descriptors and analysis techniques are adapted from ecology through close collaboration with ecologists, enabling desirable ecosystem characteristics to be used as optimization guides for industrial resource networks (or eco-industrial parks, EIPs), water networks, supply chains, and power grids. Characteristics such as a high level of cycling of materials/energy within the system and a unique balance between redundant and efficient pathways are connected back to the achievement of traditional engineering goals such as cost and robustness.