John Dabiri

John Dabiri, a bioengineer and recipient of a 2010 MacArthur Genius Grant, studies the motion of jellyfish to help improve new engineering systems.

When it comes to design, engineers have a lot to learn from nature and its diverse forms of life. That’s why John Dabiri, a bioengineer and recipient of a 2010 MacArthur Genius Grant, has turned his eye to a strange and surprisingly complex creature: the jellyfish.

Known as the “jellyfish engineer,” Dabiri uses physics, mathematics, and statistical modelling to better understand the locomotion of these fascinating animals.

Determining precisely how jellyfish swim and studying the behavior of tiny water vortexes their movement creates turns out to have diverse applications outside the field of marine biology. In an interview (which you can watch below), Dabiri describes his job like this:

“In my work, we study both the successes and the failures of biological systems, and then we try to take that knowledge, and use it to improve engineering systems.”

Some potential uses of his work include building more efficient propulsion systems for ships, diagnosing heart disease at earlier stages, and designing better wind power generators.

Biomimicry is a hot topic these days, and Dabiri’s work is proof that studying organic life will always be relevant to engineering.

Watch as this incredibly creative engineer explains his research and its significance:

Images: MacArthur Foundation