Andrea Lipps

Photo by Louise Vyent

Andrea Lipps is Associate Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, where she conceives, develops, and organizes major exhibitions and books. Most recently, Andrea has authored and edited publications and curated exhibitions including Nature—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial (2019)The Senses: Design Beyond Vision (2018)Joris Laarman Lab: Design in the Digital Age (2017), and Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial (2016). Additionally she spearheads the museum’s efforts and acquisitions of born-digital works into its collection. Andrea is a regular visiting critic, lecturer, and thesis advisor, participates on international design juries, and frequently moderates and speaks at events, symposia, and academic conferences on contemporary design and curatorial practice.


Michael Ben-Eli

Michael Ben-Eli, PhD, is the founder of the Sustainability Laboratory, established in order to develop and demonstrate groundbreaking approaches to sustainability practices, expanding prospects and producing positive, life affirming impacts on people and ecosystems in all parts of the world.

Prior to launching The Lab, Michael pioneered applications of Systems Thinking and Cybernetics in management and organization. Over the years he worked on synthesizing strategy issues in many parts of the world and in diverse institutional settings, ranging from small high technology firms to multinational enterprises, manufacturing companies, financial institutions, health care and educational organizations, government agencies, NGOs, and international multilateral organizations including the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Program, the Global Environment Facility, and others. In recent years, he has focused his work primarily on issues related to sustainability and sustainable development, and has been working to help inspire leaders in business, government, community, and youth accelerate a peaceful transition to a sustainable future.

Michael is author of the widely acclaimed Five Core Principles of Sustainability. He has been the driving force behind developing The Lab’s current flagship project, Project Wadi Attir, and is leading development of The Lab as a world-wide network of advanced research, development and education centers, based at different ecological zones. In 2016, Michael was inducted into the International Green Industry Hall of Fame and recognized with the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Michael graduated from the Architectural Association in London and later received a Ph.D. from the Institute of Cybernetics at Brunel University, where he studied under Gordon Pask. He was a close associate of R. Buckminster Fuller, with whom he collaborated on projects involving research on advanced structural systems and exploration of issues related to the management of technology and world resources for the advantage of all.

Michael Ben Eli with Ali Alhwashla, the Director of the Medicinal Plants Initiative at Project Wadi Attir
Michael Ben Eli with Ali Alhwashla, the Director of the Medicinal Plants Initiative at Project Wadi Attir

Sara Jensen Carr

Sara Jensen Carr is an Assistant Professor of Architecture and the Program Director for the Master of Design in Sustainable Urban Environments at Northeastern University, where she teaches studios and seminars on urban landscape, ecology and human health. Her work has been recognized by the Graham Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, among others. Her forthcoming book, The Topography of Wellness, will be published by the University of Virginia Press in 2020. At Northeastern University, she is a faculty affiliate at the Global Resilience Institute and a faculty scholar at the Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice Research.

Sara holds a Master of Architecture from Tulane University, and a Master of Landscape Architecture and PhD in Environmental Planning from University of California Berkeley, where she was the co-founding editor of the ASLA Award-winning GROUND UP Journal. Prior to arriving at Northeastern, she held a joint appointment in the School of Architecture and Office of Public Health Studies at University of Hawai’i at Manoa, where she worked with several local nonprofits and agencies on evaluation and design initiatives, including the Hawai’i Department of Health, the Native Hawaiian Health Program at Queens Medical Center, and the Outrigger Duke Kahanamoku Foundation.

Ahupuaa Restored

Nicole L’Huillier

Transdisciplinary artist from Santiago (CL). Currently based in Boston (US), as a PhD candidate and research assistant at MIT Media Lab, Opera of the Future group, where she also earned a Master in Media Arts & Sciences (2017). Through installations, performances, sculptures, compositions, and multiple transductions, her work explores human and non-human performativity, rituals of membranal and resonant architectures, as well as vibration and sound as construction materials for spaces, identity, and agency. She works at the intersection of music, art, architecture, science, and technology to challenge perceptual conventions and to open the possibility of new imaginaries. Nicole is also part of the MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative, where she explores the experimental forms and implications of art, expression and culture in outer space. She is also an experimental musician, drummer, synth lover and one-half of the space pop duo Breaking Forms.

Nicole will be an artist in residency at CERN, and ALMA Observatory this 2019. She has exhibited and performed at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Sónar +D, Ars Electronica, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston (ICA), SXSW, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Bienal de Artes Mediales Chile, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Santiago (MAC), Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA), Guggenheim Museum, Bienal de Arquitetura São Paulo, Centro Cultural GAM Santiago, among others. She has published and been invited as a speaker at Sónar +D, Thresholds Journal, Leonardo Journal, Siggraph, ACADIA, meConvention, Festival en Orbita (NYC, Lima, and Santiago), Festival FIIS Chile. She has been invited as a lecturer and guest critic at MIT Art Culture and Technology (ACT), School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), UPenn (PennDesign), Universidad de Chile, Universidad Finis Terrae, Universidad San Sebastián, Universidad Uniacc.

A Choreography of Vertigo


Justin Cook

Justin W. Cook is a strategic designer working on the world’s most challenging problem sets such as healthcare, sustainability and education. His passion is to tackle these systems challenges by designing innovative organizational architectures. Justin is the founder of the strategic design consulting firm Commonwealth Advanced Projects and maintains several professional affiliations.
He is the Founding Director of the Center for Complexity (CfC) at the Rhode Island School of Design which works to reveal how design and other creative practices can navigate and manage complexity and uncertainty. In addition to projects on nuclear weapons, the future of food and cities, the CfC is running a professional learning program on strategic design and systems literacy in the US and India. Until 2018, Justin was the Senior Lead for Strategy at the Finnish Innovation Fund where he spent a decade working to transform Finnish society toward greater sustainability and human wellbeing. His portfolio included sustainability, decarbonization, impact investing and the future of education. In 2018, Palgrave published his book Sustainability, Human Wellbeing and the Future of Education. While at Sitra, he was a founding member of the Helsinki Design Lab. He has advised research teams at MIT, Harvard and Johns Hopkins on how to use design as a transformative capacity. In 2016, he joined the OECD’s Observatory for Public Sector Innovation as an advisor. Justin received a Master of Architecture with commendation from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington.

Charlotte McCurdy

Charlotte McCurdy is an interdisciplinary designer from New York City. She is a Global Security Fellow at the Rhode Island School of Design with the support of the MacArthur Foundation and a member of the New Museum’s cultural incubator, NEW INC with the support of Science Sandbox. Her research focuses on existential threats.

She holds a Master of Industrial Design from RISD, and a Bachelor of Arts in Global Affairs from Yale University. She has shown her work at events and venues including The Cooper Hewitt Triennial, The Cube Museum, and the Tribeca Film Festival. Hew work has garnered three Fast Company Innovation by Design Awards and has been featured in The New York Times, Wallpaper, OZY, FastCompany, Core77, Women’s Wear Daily, Curbed, Grist, Gizmodo and beyond. 

After Ancient Sunlight

Abraham Francis

Abraham Francis has a BS in Microbiology, 2014, and MS in Natural Resources, 2014, from Cornell University. His past experiences include community empowerment, engagement and research with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and a variety of other community-based organizations.  His Masters’ Thesis focused on applied research to develop a biocultural land Stewardship strategy for existing and newly settled Native American Land Claims on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, Akwesasne. Abraham’s research interests are around the intersection of environmental research, health, education and cultural foundations as a means to empower Indigenous Communities.

The West Entrance of Akwesasne






Jennifer Bissonnette

Jennifer Bissonnette is an ecologist and marine scientist who works in the fields of sustainability, regenerative and biophilic design, recognizing the potentially transformative work that can result from merging science|nature with art|design methods of inquiry and exploration.  With a BS in Biology from Eckerd College, and a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the College of William and Mary/Virginia Institute of Marine Science, her work has focused broadly on human-nature connections, believing that a conservation ethic is best inspired by deep engagement with the natural world.

Her past experience includes working on Capitol Hill as a natural resources legislative assistant, coastal resource management work for the state of Virginia, and teaching college level courses on a variety of topics including aquaponics, biomaterials, sustainable design, biology, ecology and marine science. She is currently the Biological Programs Designer at the Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where she teaches and mentors students on diverse art|design|science topics in addition to overseeing the design, construction and programs of the new BioDesign Makerspace.  She has served as faculty in the Liberal Arts, Interior Architecture, Textiles and Industrial Design departments at RISD.

The Biodesign Makerspace at Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab. Photo by Matthew Clowney

Diana Sanchez

Diana Sánchez Barrios is a designer, artist and poet from Colombia. Her work is antidisciplinary and works across disciplines and media exploring human practices and values that shape design and our concepts of technology, beauty, nature, poetics and affection, exploring how their languages can translate meaning into one another. In a time when our body has become more digitally than physically felt, she looks forward to explore the interrelations between our technological and biological brain creating experiences that shape the poetics and politics of senses, perception and emotions. She aims to create scenarios where human-centered world is no longer possible, but a world in which we propose understanding with all life forms. She inquires into ethical and caring practices of S&T in society, placing this practices in a post-human/multispecies world through art and design.

She is the founder of Correo Patafísico (Pataphysic Postal Service), a project that inspire little girls to explore the world through Science and Technology activities with an artistic approach. This project have been featured in different conferences, such as New Direction in the Humanities and Cumulus Letters to the Future.

She was part of the Second Class of School for Poetic Computation in New York. Her poems have been published in different Latin American digital poetry magazines.

Vertical Suit Prosthesis

Elena Brebenel

Elena Brebenel is a textile artist and designer who is interested in investigating the intersections between art, craft and design, through a highly experimental and research driven practice. Elena received her MFA in Textiles from the University of Kansas, USA and BA in Textiles from the ‘George Enescu’ National University of Arts, Romania. Elena’s work was widely exhibited including countries such as Canada, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, UK, Uruguay and USA. She has received numerous grants and was awarded residencies at Contemporary Artists Center at Woodside (Troy, NY, USA), Kala Art Institute (Berkeley, CA, USA), The Fabric Workshop and Museum (Philadelphia, PA, USA), Can Serrat Centro de Actividades Artisticas (Barcelona, Spain), Nature, Art and Habitat Residency (Bergamo, Italy), Contextile 2016 (Guimarães, Portugal) and Pocoapoco (Oaxaca, Mexico).

Elena is currently an Assistant Professor in Textiles at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, while also undertaking a practice-based PhD at UAL: Central Saint Martins in London, UK.

Home Pharmacy (detail image)

Alberto de Salvatierra

Alberto de Salvatierra is a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the UNLV School of Architecture where he founded and coordinates the interdisciplinary Global Studios Program—the SoA’s first studios abroad program—and at-LAS (Anexact Technologies: Laboratory for Applied Systems), a new interdisciplinary laboratory. He is also Founder and Principal of PROXIIMA, and former Curator and current Shaper of the Las Vegas Hub of the Global Shapers Community—an initiative by the World Economic Forum based in Geneva, Switzerland.

A polymath, architectural designer, and landscape urbanist, de Salvatierra’s research and work focuses on material flows as infrastructure at the urban and civilizational scales, while his collaborative research agenda centers on fostering, developing and writing on interdisciplinary pedagogy and practices. His work has been exhibited widely both domestically and abroad, such as in the U.S., Mexico, Italy, Japan, Sweden and Serbia, and in such venues as the Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee, WI and the National Building Museum in Washington D.C.

De Salvatierra is the past recipient of Cornell’s Robert James Eidlitz Fellowship, Harvard Library’s Inaugural May Crane Fellowship, and GSD’s Penny White Prize. Prior to arriving at UNLV, he taught ecological design at Cornell University, architecture foundations at the Boston Architectural College, and landscape architecture at GSD’s Design Discovery. This past summer, he was a Visiting Professor at Universidad Iberoamericana (IBERO), Mexico’s most prestigious university. De Salvatierra holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and both a Master of Landscape Architecture and a Master of Design Studies in Urbanism, Landscape and Ecology from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Reed Urbanism: Soft Infrastructure in the Floating City of Uros


Jenn Livermore

Jenn Livermore is a graphic designer based in San Francisco, California. Her work explores how ecological relationships manifest in visual language and culture, and how visual language influences our ideas about nature. Jenn holds an MFA in graphic design from the Rhode Island School of Design, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in graphic design from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and a BA in environmental studies from Scripps College. Previously, she has worked at Volume Inc., Mende Design, and The Presidio Trust with clients such as the Queens Museum, Autodesk, Take Flight Coffee, and James Corner Field Operations.

Field Guide: A collection of self-directed studies exploring how ecological relationships manifest in graphic design

José R. Menéndez

José R. Menéndez (b.08/80) is from San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is a graphic designer, landscape designer, and visualization scientist with ten years of experience in landscape architecture and urban design. José completed an MFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017. In 2019, José completed a master’s degree in marine Affairs with a specialization in sea level rise visualizations from University of Rhode Island. He is currently teaching Graphic Design at Northeastern University. He has also taught graphic design and digital fabrication in the Department of Graphic Design, the Department Jewelry + Metalsmithing, and the Landscape Architecture Department at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Examples of Projects and Initiatives

Talya ten Brink

Talya ten Brink is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Rhode Island in Marine Affairs, a Rhode Island Sea Grant Fellow, and a former landscape architect in the Netherlands. Talya received her Bachelor’s of Landscape Architecture from the University of Washington and her Master’s of Science in Urbanism at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. She is co-Principal Investigator on a global socio-ecological fisheries project with the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) in Annapolis, MD. She worked as a co-Principal Investigator for an undergraduate research project fellowship through NSF RI C-AIM EPSCoR, as a restoration designer on Cape Cod, where she designed restoration and coastal stabilization projects, and for the International Society of City and Regional Planners. She has also published the first journal article on the impact of offshore wind farms on recreational and commercial fishermen in the United States, presented at conferences worldwide, and received awards for her designs in Seattle, Boston, and the Netherlands.

Coastal Conditions: Responding to the Partial Opening of the Haringvliet Sluice

Prathima Muniyappa

Prathima Muniyappa is a Designer, Conservator and a research assistant for the Space Enabled research group. She is a masters student in the Media Arts and Sciences at the Media Lab. She is interested in addressing issues of social justice, democratic access for historically marginalized communities and enabling indigenous agency. Her research investigates alternative cosmologies and cultural ontologies for their potential to contribute to emerging discourse on techno-imaginaries in the realm of space exploration, synthetic biology and extended intelligence. Prior to coming to MIT, she completed a Masters in Design Studies in Critical Conservation at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard under a Fulbright Scholarship. She holds a BDes in Spatial Design from the National Institute of Design, India and is a Young India Fellow 2013-14.

Allen Hazard

Photo by Acacia  Johnson

Allen Hazard is one of this region’s most established and finest Narragansett wampum makers. He is one of the very few Narragansett who have carried the tradition on in an unbroken manner, learning from his mother, Sarah (Fry) Hazard, and his aunt Laura (Fry) Mars.

Allen has won a number of awards and served as a master in the Southern New England Apprenticeship Program. He also serves as a mentor and demonstrator at the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum (Exeter, RI), and at Mashantucket Pequot Museum (MA).  He has lectured in various departments at The Rhode Island School of Design, on identity, and on traditional Narragansett life.

Allen was honored in 2014 by the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum as a sustaining member, particularly for the mentoring of his community’s youth, and has been recognized by the National Museum of the American Indian (DC). 

Allen’s extraordinary presence, and invitations to lead workshops at many native institutions, including the Pequot Museum, is a testimony to the quality of his work, the passion he exhibits towards his Narragansett culture, his ability to transcend cultural boundaries and to represent a regional Eastern Woodlands tradition in an accessible and charismatic manner.

In addition to making extraordinary wampum, Allen upholds other Narragansett traditions, including making his own – and his family’s – regalia, attending Narragansett, Pequot and regional pow-wows, where he often not only performs as a dancer but also exhibits his work.

Allen often talks about – and engages in – such mundane, but traditional activities as blue-crabbing (in the Fall) and other seaside activities that used to provide the Narragansett with a varied seasonal diet. His quahogging not only adds to the family’s diet, but also provides him with the materials for his on-going wampum making.

Winifred Lambrecht

Winnie Lambrecht received her PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, with a specialty in non-Western/non-Euro based arts and architecture, and a focus on visual anthropology. Her interests include adaptation skills in indigenous and immigrant communities and the intersection of visual/performance arts and visual literacy; her early interests were in sub-Sahara Africa (where she was raised) and subsequently, the African diaspora and Latin America, leading her to visit Mexico and Cuba on several occasions.

Winnie is also trained as a documentary photographer and filmmaker, producing films in the US, Armenia, Tanzania and Mexico. She worked for many years as the director of the Traditional & Community Arts Program at the RI State Council on the Arts, serving as the state’s ethnographer. She initiated the program and continued to manage it until a few years ago. In that capacity, she focused on the skills and knowledge that indigenous and immigrant communities have continued to share and pass on to the next generations, including food ways, traditional medicine, building, crafts and the arts.

She curated a series of exhibitions, festivals and cultural projects and was the director for international cultural exchange projects in France, Cuba, Mexico, and Québec.

She regularly contributes articles and reviews to professional journals.

Winnie currently teaches at the RI School of Design, and continues to engage in fieldwork and produce visual documentation.

Joseph Clinton

Joseph D. Clinton is the President/CEO of PolyModular, Ltd., and Clinton International Design Consultants. He was the coordinator of design technology programs at Kean University for 14 years and director of engineering/design scientist with Spitz Inc., where he was responsible for the engineering of spherical planetarium and space theater screens and aerospace flight simulation equipment. He co-founded 3-D Structures, Inc., a leading design and manufacturer of aerospace flight simulation equipment. Clinton worked as a design scientist for Visual Displays, Ltd and at SEOS, Ltd., both world leaders in visual display solutions, until his retirement. He serves on the board of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, the advisory board of RBF Dome, and is one of the founders and a past president of Synergetics Collaborative, a not-for- profit association of synergeticists. He has published in leading journals and given workshops on synergetics & design science, holds several patents and is an internationally recognized design scientist.

Rotegrity Models

Biagio Di Carlo

Design Science Architect Biagio Di Carlo has been teaching for years at the Art Institute of Pescara.  He is now retired and works full time at its Design Science Studio carrying out plans, workshops and research on synergetics and design science structures (polyhedra, geodesic domes, reciprocal frames and tensegrity structures), using mainly bamboo arundo donax cane and natural materials.  Known internationally for his studies and publications, Carlo received his degree in architecture in 1976 from the University of Architecture of Pescara.  His doctoral thesis, written under the advisement of professor Eduardo Vittoria, received the maximum score with a proposal to publish.  Since then he has been invited to hold workshops, lectures and seminars all over the world. He has published articles in leading architectural journals and is the author of several books on design science. His books can be purchased from and

Examples from a previous workshop

Elise Powell

Elise Powell is a Central Texas-based horseback riding coach, sustainable rancher, and visual artist. Her mission is to forge fruitful relationships among diverse communities of humans and wild and domestic plants and animals. She works as a community educator at the intersection of the creative practice, mindfulness, and land stewardship. Along with her collaborators at Get Well Farms, she hosts family-friendly, public homesteading workshops and has developed a locally adaptable set of land stewardship guidelines.

Elise’s research and experimentation are guided by the work of Allan Savory, Masanobu Fukuoka, Sepp Holzer, Wendell Berry and other contemporary pioneers of regenerative agriculture. Elise created the Get Well Farms method of Regenerative Agriculture as an alternative to conventional practices such as clear cutting, burning, root plowing and pesticide and herbicide application on overgrown or otherwise abused or neglected land. The Get Well Farms method is a scalable, inexpensive and direct route to long-term soil health, agricultural productivity, and biodiversity. It is designed to be implemented by people of all ages who want to preserve and rehabilitate land or grow their own food in either rural or suburban settings. The practices of the Get Well Farms method shun neatness, oppose contamination, and redefine the act of harvesting. Using these mindful, compassionate, fossil-fuel-free, anti-erosion, no-till food production techniques, farmers of all ages see side effects such as the joyful resurgence of ritual song and dance, improved mental health, enhanced local economy, habitat construction and boosts in the diversity of ecological                 communities.

Elise is Farm Foreman and Director of Get Well Farms, in Austin, TX, Ranch Manager at Pokenscratch Ranch in Smithville, TX, Horseback Riding Coach and Horse Trainer at SunCrest Farm in Manor, TX. As a faculty member of The Contemporary Austin, she also works as a Visual Arts instructor at Laguna Gloria and the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX teaching classes such as Bamboo Drawing Tools and Homemade Media, Abstract Drawing from Nature, Botanical Illustration and Zen and the Art of Seeing. She holds a BFA in Illustration Studies from RISD and was the recipient of 2017 Community Initiatives grant funding from the Cultural Arts division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.

Get Well Farms Collaborators

David Colby Reed

David Colby Reed is a systems designer, educator, and technologist. He works to build equity into the architectures of sociotechnical systems.

David is the co-founder of Foossa, the service design and strategy practice, and a lecturer in design and management at the Parsons School of Design. He has designed public services for the City of New York, storytelling experiences for the Kigali Genocide Memorial, technology tools for multilateral organizations, and financial instruments to advance economic security, among other projects. He has worked on projects to advance the ethical governance of artificially intelligent systems, and is a past Fellow of the Assembly program at the Berkman-Klein Center at Harvard and the MIT Media Lab. David is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), and a former trustee of the Awesome Foundation.

David studied cognitive science at Harvard, public policy and economics at NYU, and is pursuing a PhD at the MIT Media Lab. At MIT, David is a member of the Space Enabled research group, whose mission is to advance justice on Earth using designs enabled by space.

Jacob Lawrence in Space

Ana Rewakowicz

Ana Rewakowicz is an interdisciplinary Polish-born artist, living and working in Montreal (Canada) and Paris (France). She is currently finishing her PhD in art and science at École Polytechnique in Paris. Known for stimulating, interactive, inflatable works that question our relationship with the environment, she is concerned with issues of sustainability and technology as opportunities for social transformation. Presently her art engages in growing environmental complexities with a focus on water. She has works in permanent collections of MACRO (Rome, Italy), MAC (Montreal), MNBAQ (Québec City), Musée de Joliette, and has exhibited extensively in Canada and abroad, including Copernicus Science Museum (Warsaw, Poland), Bienal del Fin del Mondo, (Mar Del Plata, Argentina), ISEA 2014 (Dubai, UAE), Foundation Stiftelsen 3,14 (Bergen, Norway), Anchorage Museum (Alaska, USA), Pori Art Museum (Finland) and La Maison Europénne de la Photographie (Paris, France). Her artworks have been reviewed in various magazines and books including the most recently published anthology about inflatable architecture – Bubbletecture, Phaidon (2019). Her nomadic artwork SleepingBagDress is featured in “Microtopia”, a documentary film by Swedish director Jesper Wachtmeister about micro dwellings, downsizing and living off the grid.

Mist Collector

Chris Rose

Chris Rose is a designer, author, academic and has been described as an ‘all-round visionary’.  He has developed seminars in research for design and its cognitive, haptic and social aspects in Europe, India, Australia and USA. Presently with Rhode Island School of Design, he teaches in Architecture and Furniture Design and has acted as research consultant for the National Science Foundation program at RISD. He is a fellow of the emerging ‘Arts Letters and Numbers’ project in New York founded by architect David Gersten. In 2013 Chris was commissioned by Aalto University Helsinki, together with architect Saija Hollmen, to produce a research framework for proposed joint masters programs in Architecture and Engineering.

Formerly with the University of Brighton, England, where he supervised a number of design-related PhDs ranging from materials science to medical collaborations,  he continues advising research activities in Finland, Australia and USA. He has recently completed new editions of two publications, the self-published ‘Light and Materiality’ (2016) associated with an experimental materials class at RISD, and a new chapter on design for the reference work on sustainable materials sciences ‘Green Composites’ for Elsevier. His new graduate class at RISD is ‘BioDesign Studio’ in the Edna w. Lawrence Nature Lab together with Director Neal Overstrom. His work in Australia frames the connections between sustainable design, Aboriginal ways of knowing and biomimimetics – learning from nature.  Chris is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London.

Andreas Mershin

Andreas Mershin earned his MSci in Physics and Cosmology at Imperial College London and his PhD in Physics and Biophysics at Texas A&M University. He is currently a Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms where he leads the Label Free Research Group that operates in blissful ignorance of any boundaries between physics, biology, materials and information sciences. From inexpensive photosynthetic solar panels to quantum effects in molecular biology and from cytoskeletal memory encoding, machine olfaction to bioenergy harvesting, his research and the resulting technologies are used by industry and government, exhibited at the Boston Museum of Science and Designer’s Open Exhibition and have been globally covered by CNN, BBC, NYT, Discovery Channel, Wired, New Scientist, Nature and Science.

Beth Shorrock

Beth earned a BFA in Textile Design and a MAT in Art and Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. After working as a Gallery Assistant in Boston and Assistant Design for a clothing firm in NYC, Beth became an entrepreneur with over 20 years experience. Her company designed and produced clothing, textiles and accessories which were sold to retail stores throughout the US and Canada as well as developing her own lifestyle brand and fair trade retail stores in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Beth has been a full time faculty member teaching fashion courses at the University of Rhode Island, Syracuse University and Columbia College Chicago. While in Chicago Beth became a Co-Founder of SEAMworks Studio an ethical cut and sew apparel and accessories manufacturer using upcycled and sustainable materials while also training and employing refugee women struggling at the poverty line.

Beth has collaborated with United Airlines and O’hare International Airport on the creative reuse of materials which prominently featured work by her students in a variety of media. Most recently she has been featured in the book Sustainability and Social Change in Fashion.

As a sustainable designer, Beth is extremely interested in ethical production, sustainable practices and the utilization of waste and surplus materials. Her expertise in textiles and sustainable fashion has led her to Farm to Fashion, a circular and sustainable approach to connecting fashion students to the origins of fiber production by collaborating with professors in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.

Beth is passionate about empowering her students to be independent thinkers equipped with the ability to discover who they are as designers, meeting future challenges and succeeding in their chosen field.



Kristina Van Dexter

Kristina is a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Studies and poet whose work draws on experimental ethnography and creative writing practices that incorporate audiovisual poetics performed together with more-than-human ecologies of tropical forest landscapes. For more than a decade, Kristina’s research on deforestation, indigenous territorial land claims, and traditional situated knowledges has covered the tropical forests of the Congo, Borneo and the Amazon. Her current project, Paz con la selva, or Peace with the forest, is a multimodal project that combines audiovisual narratives, video essays, insurgent poetics, and soundscapes that act as a witness to tropical forest destruction in the Colombian Amazon but also a speculative commitment towards ongoingness and multispecies flourishing in the midst of such disturbance. Selva refers to the living forests of Amazonia and can be understood as the folding together of life, reproduction, death, and decomposition of entangled human and more-than-human worlds – a gathering of plants, pollinators, soil microorganisms, and forest spirits. This concept is a way of thinking, relating and living with the selva among rural peasant and indigenous communities in the Colombian Amazon that teaches about how to inherit our precarious presents and uncertain futures, and to cultivate responsibility and care for forests. 

Deforestation presents a problem of communicating and visualizing scales and patterns, rhythms, and agencies that exceed human space/time configurations. This project explores the endangered liveliness and sentience of the selva and its diverse intra-active multispecies relations. It proposes rereading the data of deforestation through speculative stories that make the selva’s own experiences felt, including alternative modes of sensing and technologies, and ways of communicating that enable more-than-human worlds to make themselves present. This project is connected with ongoing research and collaborations with artists, indigenous and rural communities, and scientists to address deforestation in the Colombian Amazon, which was recently declared by the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice a subject with rights.