Midwest US Biodesign Hub Launch

4/21/21 @ 1pm ET

event graphicAbout

Biodesign is finding its way into education institutions all over the world. It bridges art, design, and biotech to reimagine a more sustainable and thoughtful future.

Biodesign Challenge, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Toledo are hosting an online symposium to bring together the biodesign community across the Midwestern United States. The event will kickoff a regional Hub for biodesign practitioners, research institutions, and students to share resources, collaborate on projects, and develop new teaching practices. 

Experts from across the Midwest will speak about their work and ambitions for biodesign. BDC alumni will offer short talks about their projects and design processes.


To keep the conversation going, we invite you to join our LinkedIn Group: Biodesign Regional Hub -Midwest




  • 1:00-1:25 Introduction

    Daniel Grushkin, Executive Director, Biodesign Challenge
    Nandita Baxi Sheth, Artist and Faculty, Trans Disciplinary Honors, University of Cincinnati
    Brian Carpenter, Artist and Assistant Professor, University of Toledo

  • 1:25-1:55 1st Session

    BDC 2021 Team, University of Cincinnati
    Whitney Gaskins, Faculty and Assistant Dean of Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Cincinnati
    LifeBrik, BDC 2020 alumni, University of Cincinnati

  • 2:05-2:25 2nd Session
    Eric Zeigler, Artist and Assistant Professor of Art, University of Toledo
    Wastr, BDC 2020 alumni, University of Toledo

  • 2:25-2:40 Keynote

    Laura Forlano, Associate Professor of Design, Institute of Design (ID); Affiliated Faculty in the College of Architecture, Director of the Critical Futures Lab, Illinois Institute of Technology

Keynote Speaker

Laura+Forlano-01 Laura Forlano, a Fulbright award-winning and National Science Foundation-funded scholar, is a writer, social scientist, and design researcher. She is an Associate Professor of Design at the Institute of Design (ID) and Affiliated Faculty in the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology, where she is Director of the Critical Futures Lab. Laura’s research is focused on aesthetics and politics at the intersection of design and emerging technologies. Over the past ten years, she has studied the materialities and futures of socio-technical systems, such as autonomous vehicles and smart cities; 3D printing, local manufacturing, and innovation ecosystems; automation, distributed labor practices, and the future of work; and computational fashion, smart textiles, and wearable medical technologies.


Nandita_1+(1) Nandita Baxi Sheth is an educator, artist, and researcher who is interested in the sites of intersection between art & design and science & technology. She has taught Art Education Courses and currently co-teaches Trans Disciplinary Honors Courses: Sticky Innovation and the Biodesign Challenge in the University of Cincinnati’s Honors Program, for which she and Dr. Whitney Gaskins received an Excellence in Teaching Award in 2019. She also collaborates with the Strange Tools Research Lab in the Digital Futures Initiative at the University of Cincinnati. Nandita has a Bachelors of Arts in Architectural Studies, English, and Art History from Rice University; a Master of Community Planning and Master of Visual Arts Education from the College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. And she is currently a doctoral candidate at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts enjoying the study of philosophy, aesthetics, and art theory. Her research interests include: arts based inquiry approaches to solve “wicked problems”; theories of affect; notions of the anthropocene, and making connections between aesthetics, philosophy and the natural world, especially bees.



Brian+CarpenterBrian Carpenter is an artist, curator, and Assistant Professor based in Toledo, Ohio. Utilizing a range of media through 2D and 3D methods, his work explores the pathological constructs of affliction and its relationship to history and cultural identity. His current research involves inquiries into tools and institutional objects as extensions of organisms and their role in the organization of a species. Brian attended the University of Toledo where he received a BA through the University College individualized program concentrating in sculpture, photography, and architecture. Later he earned his MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art and was the recipient of the Cranbrook Merit Award in photography. Brian is the Co-founder and Director of Curation of Contemporary Art Toledo, a non-profit organization dedicated to the production, presentation, and promotion of ideas from visual artists from around the Great Lake regions and the world.


dan-01Daniel Grushkin is founder and executive director of Biodesign Challenge. He is co-founder of Genspace, a nonprofit community laboratory dedicated to promoting citizen science and access to biotechnology. Daniel has been a Fellow at Data & Society, a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and an Emerging Leader in Biosecurity at the John Hopkins Center of Health Security. As a journalist, he has reported on the intersection of biotechnology, culture, and business for publications including Bloomberg Businessweek, Fast Company, Scientific American and Popular Science.



Whitney+Gaskins-01Dr. Whitney Gaskins is the Assistant Dean of Inclusive Excellence and Community Engagement in the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science, the only African-American female currently teaching in the faculty of the College of Engineering. Whitney earned her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering, her Masters of Business Administration in Quantitative Analysis, and her Doctorate of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering/Engineering Education. In her role as Assistant Dean, Whitney has revamped the summer bridge program to increase student support and retention as well as developed and strengthened partnerships with local area school districts to aid in the high school to college pathway. In 2009, she founded The Gaskins Foundation, a non-profit organization, whose mission is to educate and empower the African American community. Her foundation recently launched the Cincinnati STEMulates year round K-12 program, which is a free-of-charge program that will introduce more students to Math and Science. She was named the 2017 K12 Champion by the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates (NAMEPA).




lifebrik2The LIFEBRIK project is a soil brick composed of 5 layers: mineral, carbon, profile, biota, and cover. It is meant to simplify urban agriculture and make it more accessible to people who want to start their own urban gardens.



Eric+ZieglerEric Zeigler is an artist, designer, and researcher whose current work involves photography and unconventional transformation of images. He received an MFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute, and exhibits his work nationally and internationally. Recently his work has been exhibited at the CICA Museum in Seoul, South Korea, and at the NIDA International Photography Symposium in Nida, Lithuania. Eric is an Assistant Professor of Art in the Department of Art at the University of Toledo. He created and runs the Art Print Center which serves as a hub for all digital artwork production by university students, faculty, and local artists.




wastrThe Wastr project is a critical piece that imagines a garbage can that measures users’ waste production in order to promote better disposal habits.