Welcome to the Biological Form + Function Lab! We study 'how' and 'why' living organisms have the body they have. Our research = developmental biology (how organisms make their body) + mechanical engineering (what it means to have a specific structure). It is highly interdisciplinary, encompassing several fields of biological and physical sciences. We are a borderless group of researchers, both in terms of scientific fields and countries of origin. Biological structures are amazingly robust, despite the great restriction in materials they can use. Being sessile, plants deal with ever changing environment by adapting their body structure via active sensing and response to the mechanical distress imposed upon them. We investigate the underpinnings of engineering brilliance and resilience of living structures, in particular plant structures such as plant shoots and the dandelion fruit. We like to study morphing structures that change in order to accommodate a specific challenge, because they offer unique opportunities to unfold functional significance of the altered features.
We actively seek ways to apply our research for benefit of the society in three areas: synthetic biology, biomimetic engineering, and agriculture. The experimental platforms we are developing will be useful for sustainable production of plant-driven compounds and structures. Adaptive biological structures are naturally 'smart' and a great source of inspiration for next-generation engineering strategies. Structural failure of crop plants are a serious cause of yield loss in agriculture, for which our gained knowledge will find novel solutions.