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College of Arts and Sciences lecture series extends learning to the weekends

For those looking to supplement lazy Sundays with a bit of learning, the College of Arts and Sciences hosts a series of public lectures called Science Sundays.

Bharat Bhushan, a Howard D. Winbigler professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, discussed the emerging field of biomimetics as part of the Science Sundays series this past week in the Ohio Union.

Bharat Bhushan, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Howard D. Winbigler professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, will be sharing his research of nature inspired technologies on Sunday at 3 p.m. Credit: Courtesy of Bharat Bhushan

Biomimetics is the mimicking of structures and processes found in nature and applying what they have learned in the lab.

“Our objective is to identify species that provide a functionality,” Bhushan said. “We study how nature does it then create those structures in the lab and demonstrate they can be used in commercial applications.”

Science Sundays are public lectures held by leading experts in their fields of study and the College of Arts and Sciences sponsors Bhushan because of his field-leading research, said Jay Hollick, director of the Center for Applied Plant Sciences and professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics.

“One of the areas I’ve been working in for the past 10 years or so is [the] lotus effect,” Bhushan said. “[The lotus flower] repels water extremely well. It’s self-cleaning. It has a low adhesion and lotuslike substances could be used in self-cleaning windows and self-cleaning shampoo bottles, tiles and fabric.”

Another topic Bhushan discussed is how geckos, a species of lizard, have the ability to stick to surfaces which could be mimicked in wall climbing robots and surgical masks. Bhushan also covered three other topics, including replicating shark skin for aircraft; the research of desert beetles, cactus, and desert grass for their abilities to collect water from fog for those in need of water in deserts and dry environments; and the development of a mosquito-inspired needles for medical applications.

“Mosquito is an interesting species. It pierces human beings to suck blood. It stays on the body for five seconds and you don’t even know it, so it has a pain-piercing mechanism and numbing,” Bhushan said. “We’re trying to do something with painless microneedles.”

Bhushan said he hopes his lecture will be of interest to students and Ohio State’s large community because he believes everyone can learn from nature.

“I’m excited about it because as researchers, we always talk to our peers and fellow colleagues, but our job as a teacher is to disseminate information so that people understand what we do, what the value of the science is, and I think it’s important to reach out to the community and speak to them,” Bhushan said.

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