Ds Scholarship

Path to PhD started with a small planetarium and an intro astronomy course

December 6, 2021

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable Fall 2021 alumni.

McCall Langford was introduced to the principles of biomimicry design at a very young age. She came to appreciate the intricacies of nature’s complex systems, processes, and forms through the work of her grandfather, Ray Anderson, founder of an eco-friendly textile manufacturer focused on sustainability. user interface. Langford was influenced by the biomimetic and sustainability thought leaders with whom her grandfather worked closely to design products inspired by the regenerative properties of the natural world.
McCall Langford.
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After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Marketing from Georgia State University, she directed her passion for justice and sustainability into the nonprofit environmental sector, where she worked as Director of Development another generation.

The allure of the natural world was strong, and she turned away from her corporate career to fully immerse herself in nature, spending more than a year camping and backpacking in the US wilderness. It was there that she was able to notice how subtle and specific the harmonious nature of the biological world really is.

Upon returning from her adventures, Langford furthered her life’s goal: not only to redefine herself with nature, but to advocate a global reconnection with the natural world to create a more sustainable and renewable future. I joined in Global Futures CollegeMaster of Science in Nature Simulation by ASU OnlineShe hopes to use her expertise and degree to continue to help bridge the gap between modern technology, innovation, and the natural world.

Question: What was the “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I was exposed to mimicry when I was really young through serious business. He became really active in the sustainability community through his mission at Interface. His organization worked with mimicry consultants to create renewable and sustainable designs.

In my undergraduate studies, I did nonprofit development work in fundraising and donor management, and later worked as director of youth environmental education development and endangered species advocacy nonprofit. I also took some time away from the corporate world to backpack.

During that time, I was immersed in nature. I’m really starting to notice the level of complexity and effective throughput of natural processes. These natural systems filter water, sequester carbon, remove air pollutants, cool the earth, generate abundant nutrients and so on, without causing any of the problems or challenges caused by our human designs. There are a lot of complex collaborative relationships in nature. The ecosystems around us perform all the functional tasks the human race is trying to accomplish, and they are doing much more efficiently than us.

Nature creates favorable conditions for life because its sole purpose is to survive. Realizing the power of nature’s advice, mimicry of nature helps us formalize the process of asking, “How does nature do this, and what can we learn from it?” We can solve many of the sinister challenges we are experiencing at this very crucial point in human history. The big “aha” moment came from looking around and seeing all the very complex solution space where these answers actually exist and knowing that I wanted to take advantage of the library of solutions that the biological world makes use of.

Q: What did you learn while at ASU — in class or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

a: It really amazed me when I was on this program how much humans design. Obviously, we design buildings, infrastructure, products and a whole lot of tangible things that give us modern conveniences. We also design much more than that. Humankind designs intangible processes and systems as well. Whether it’s about how you’ll spend your morning or how you’ll get involved in society, we’re constantly coming up with new ideas for how we can improve our lives. By mimicking nature, we have the opportunity to connect innovative human design with efficient and effective nature-inspired design solutions.

Q: Why did you choose Arizona State University?

a: In the early 1990s (her grandfather) Ray Anderson set out to identify leaders and change agents in the field of sustainability to help develop sustainable, nature-inspired designs at Interface. Janine Benius And Dinah Builder, founders Nature Mimicry 3.8.1, is among these leaders, and has followed their career closely over the years. What I appreciate about ASU and its partnership with Biomimicry 3.8 is that the program not only emphasized the importance of mimicking nature in design, but the ultimate goal of creating ethical and sustainable systems that work in harmony with nature. The Arizona State University program inculcates mimicry of nature for a sustainable and renewable future.

The holistic design thinking methodology offered at Arizona State University directs a holistic approach to simulating natural systems to create a true symbiosis with the Earth. We can create conditions conducive to life, just as our natural ecosystems do, and in the process, we can reconnect with a deep relationship with the natural world.

In addition to the unique opportunity to learn from leaders in the field, ASU is known for its prestigious and well-appointed online programming. In my eyes, there was no other place I wanted to go than Arizona State University.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while you were at ASU?

a: Dina Baumeister is the backbone of the Master’s Program in Biomimicry. We also have an impressive group of associate professors who elevate and support Dina’s work while bringing additional knowledge and perspectives to the program. It is very difficult to choose one professor who has influence. They have all played a huge role in advancing my academic career.

Q: What is the best advice you would give to those still in school?

a: My best advice is to go above and beyond what the courses require of you. More specifically, state how you can be an advocate for the work you do here. Designed to be flexible for career professionals, the master’s program is designed to be accessible and achievable with that implication that you can go ahead and customize your education and experience. It’s not about the grades in your text, it’s about learning everything you can and then taking that knowledge and applying it to make the world a better place.

Q: What is your favorite place to study strength?

a: I really don’t consider this to be just an online program because we are invited to get out into nature and learn from it. This program encourages us to be outside all the time, so I really spent most of my time in the field, observing and learning how to see the natural world through a functional lens.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

a: I formally practice mimicry in my profession of innovative design. I am currently working as a biomimicry consultant on a project that brings biomimetic design to an 18-mile stretch of highway tested that is an innovation laboratory for regenerative design. The Innovation Lab initiative shows an interest in pulling bio-inspired design to improve the renewable qualities of our nation’s transportation systems. After graduation I will continue to make use of biomimetic design to bring us closer to the harmonious place I know we can get to.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you do?

a: The School of Complex Adaptive Systems focuses on developing frameworks to guide the design of our systems, while in a very technical way, it also integrates these frameworks into social and conceptual designs. To do both, you have to have a cultural shift, so I would put that in the direction of encouraging people to invest in biomimetic solutions by showing them how renovation will improve their conditions. I will invest $40 million in demonstrating the value of the funding and implementing renewable and efficient systems inspired by the natural world rather than many of the current non-adaptive “solutions.”

We get there. Over the past decade, we have witnessed a massive cultural shift towards a more equitable and inclusive social mindset. We certainly have to address economic and social perspectives before we can see the huge complex systems change necessary to solve these sinister problems.

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