The Nature Lab is seeking graduate students for three new positions, now open: Technology Graduate Assistant, Biomaterials Graduate Assistant, and Communications Graduate Assistant.
Please note: applicants must be enrolled for Fall 2023.
Apply now! Link in bio.
Edna Lawrence Nature Lab
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Benefit Street/29 Waterman Street
RISD’s founding mission—to educate its students and the public in the creation and appreciation of works of art and design, to discover and transmit knowledge and to make lasting contributions to a global society through critical thinking, scholarship and innovation through both the college and museum—holds true today.
Shown: Waterman Building home to Edna Lawrence Nature Lab @ RISD & Experimental and Foundation Studies.
Photos: RISD Archives & Jo Sittenfeld MFA 08 PH
When does the lab close for winter break?
The RISD Regenerative Earth Collective Is a transdisciplinary student lead initiative that reimagines the Rhode Island School of Design communities relationship with the surrounding ecosystem.
Keep up with all their great work with dyes and fiber plants on the RISD Regenerative Earth Collective site: http://risdregenerativeearth.weebly.com/
The work continues this summer as researchers who have previously participated in the collaboration find inspiration in the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab @ RISD and forge new conceptual connections.
Learn more here: https://sea-ahead.com/bluegreen-overview
This project is aimed at increasing awareness and interest in natural and local dye options. The entirety of the library is housed in the Nature Lab, where each sample is accompanied by detailed instructions. This is a communal, living library that will continue to grow as students and faculty members experiment with additional dyes, processes, and materials.
Check out more details about the development of the Natural Dye reference library on Sarah's website http://sarahgarrison.co/natural-dye-library
how do we determine the sustainability profile based on the techniques we’re using?
Join Fibershed Executive Director, Rebecca Burgess, and Designer/ Rhode Island School of Design alum Tareq Alzawawi for this exciting Edna Lawrence Nature Lab @ RISD + Southeastern New England Fibershed talk.
RSVP here: https://senefibershed.org/2020/08/28/risd-southeastern-new-england-fibersheds-common-threads-series/
How can we reframe the conversation around waste as a useful material that benefits surrounding communities and environments?
Register for this and the remaining two conversations here: https://senefibershed.org/2020/08/28/risd-southeastern-new-england-fibersheds-common-threads-series/
(Image: Annie Keating at FABSCRAP in Brooklyn standing in a pile of textile waste and dead stock material)
Natural history collection fostering creative inquiry into biodesign, ecology, and climate change.
The Nature Lab is a unique resource that offers the opportunity to examine, explore and understand the patterns, structures and interactions of design in nature. Founded in 1937, its collections now contain more than 100,000 natural history objects.
Operating as usual
The Nature Lab is seeking graduate students for three new positions, now open: Technology Graduate Assistant, Biomaterials Graduate Assistant, and Communications Graduate Assistant.
The next time you come to the Nature Lab, be sure to check out our new specimens for Tiny Town in the Nature Lab - shed skins for Mowgli and Wessummossoh.
Mowgli is a Leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius), and Wessummossoh is a Corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus).
If you'd like to call them by some of the Nature Lab's pet names, Mowgli is sometimes also called "Mowgilito," "a little sausage sandwich," and "babyyyyy guuurl," while Wessummossoh also goes by "Wessu," "the stinky man," "long boi," and "bo**er." (All of these names are presented with the highest regard for proper scientific sensibilities, of course!)
Look for us in Popular Science! In a new featured article, PopSci showcases the RISD Nature Lab's collaboration with Hyundai Motor Group. Featuring quotes directly from BioDesign Researcher Manini Banerjee (ID 2024, NCSS/CTC), the article can be found here: https://www.popsci.com/echnology/hyundai-risd-car-design-nature/
(Picture credits: Physarum Polycephalum by Manini Banerjee; Hyundai Group visit by Felipe Leonardo Santos Shibuya)
Be sure to check out the feature article about the RISD x Hyundai Motor Group Research Partnership, written by Simone Solondz, and featuring photos by Jo Sittenfeld, MFA 08 PH
Read it here: https://www.risd.edu/news/stories/risd-x-hyundai-motor-group-partnership-2023
Last week, the Nature Lab had a special visit from RISD professor emeritus Alba Corrado and her friend and fellow alum Eugene Beck, both of whom had Edna Lawrence as a teacher.
They fondly recalled Ms. Lawrence's strict but impactful teaching style, as well as her unusual assignments. A chicken foot illustration by RISD alum William Bettencourt (1963) hanging in the mezzanine reminded Eugene of how Ms. Lawrence brought in fresh study specimens from the local butcher and demonstrated how pulling on the exposed tendons could still engage and control the digits--something that caused some of the students to faint!
Pictured, Alba and Eugene present a preserved chicken foot ( #73.16) from our collection. (Try not to faint!)
Did you know Edna Lawrence? If so, please share stories about her, and please also visit the Nature Lab!
Hyundai Motor Group's 2023 visit was a big success! Here are some pictures from the week.
The Nature Lab is seeking undergraduate students with an interest in animal and plant care, nature, and natural history collections to work as Lab Assistants over the summer of 2023.🦎🐟🪴
Please note: applicants must be enrolled for Fall 2023. This is an on-campus position.
Apply now on ArtWorks here: https://risd.12twenty.com/hire, or in person at 13 Waterman St! Talk to Lab Coordinators Ava and Lea for more information and to apply.
Pill bugs might be one of the cutest terrestrial crustaceans around- do you agree? Or are there just too many legs? Either way, the yellow markings on this roly-poly are quite striking. Woodlice are related to the aquatic giant isopod, of which the Nature Lab has a few dried specimens - we think they're just as cute!
Image: Armadillidium vulgare, photographed on the Canon EOS 6D Mark II Macropod. Collected in Providence by Benedict Gagliardi, rock flipping assistance provided by Anna Van Ness.
(Always put rocks and logs back the way you found them when searching for bugs!)
The Nature Lab is seeking a graduate student with strong GIS skills to work on a RISD campus mapping project. The student will be responsible for collating existing coverages that provide both 2D and 3D information for environmental, building, and urban infrastructure data as well as coding for some sustainability metrics such as fuel consumption and water usage. The graduate assistant will be expected to develop the platform as both an interactive display of campus assets and tool to communicate specific, comparative data sets. Flexible timing to be determined by student availability, with expected completion over the summer of 2023.
Please note: applicants must be enrolled for Fall 2023.
Apply now here: tinyurl.com/gisgradassist
This weekend! 🌿🌻🌱🌷
Plant Bodies: Breath, S*x and Interspecies Relationships
Saturday, April 29, 3:00 pm in the Microscopy Lab (Waterman room 12)
Do you use plants or plant imagery in your work? Do you know how they breathe? Have s*x? Grow? Where they live? How to identify their differences in the large family of photosynthesizing beings?
A hands-on workshop using microscopes, flower dissection and food to better understand the plant world. Led by artist and botanical illustrator and Illustration graduate student Mara Menahan.
Hope to see you there!
Images from Pulp Ecologies this weekend! Haley MacKeil led participants through multiple ways of using paper pulp and papermaking techniques to create expressive 2D and 3D forms. We explored dipping forms in paper pulp, paper casting, sheet forming, manipulation of paper materials, and more. Thanks to everyone who signed up!
Happy Earth Day! 🌎🌿 Enjoy these spring flowers, found and beautifully captured by student Soleil Nguyen (MArch 23') on the Macropod. Notice the aphids in the first two images! If you recognize any of the blooms, let us know in the comments. 🌸💐🌼
Check out our Flickr page to see more hi-res images taken at the Nature Lab! https://www.flickr.com/photos/risdnaturelab/
The KIA-RISD Architecture studio is pleased to announce an upcoming open lecture for the RISD community given by anthropologist Dr. Tim Ingold. Titled "CREATURES OF THE SOIL, REBORN" the lecture is part of the studio's Coexistence in Crisis, taught by Leeland McPhail and Felipe Shibuya. The lecture will take place on April 27th at 1:15pm, at the Hyundai Space (68-74 South Main Street, 3rd floor). We encourage all interested members of the RISD community to attend! Sign up here: https://tinyurl.com/timingold
Sphagnum moss under the scanning electron microscope (SEM)
This video shows one of several juvenile moon jellies (known as ephyra) that have recently appeared in our moon jelly kreisels (circular-flowing aquarium tank). Our moon jellies are a beautiful and popular attraction in the Biodesign Makerspace, often viewed through the windows from the sidewalk. They're especially alluring lit up at night!Moon jellies have a surprisingly short life cycle. In the wild, they have an average lifespan of 8-12 months. Adult jellyfish, known as medusae, reproduce externally, after which the females brood fertilized eggs as they develop into larvae (planulae). The planulae detach and float through the open ocean, eventually settling on the seafloor to grow into polyps. These polyps develop into a stack of ephyra called a strobilla. Ephyra then separate (shown above) and mature into medusae, completing the cycle. Visit the jellies and try to find the ephyra - they're only about 3mm across at the time of writing.
Jellyfish in the wild are an important food source for many animals, such as sea turtles, birds, and fish. These predators can easily mistake floating plastic bags and other trash for jellyfish, with deadly results. As we lead up to earth day, and all throughout the year, be conscious of the waste you're creating, and that it has a chance to end up in the ocean. Swap single-use plastic bags for a reusable tote- one decision can impact the life of a marine animal, who will hopefully end up snacking on a plentiful moon jellyfish instead!
Join Liz Maynard in the RISD Nature Lab's Biodesign Makerspace for mindful movement and meditation. The session is broken into two 1/2 hour segments (drop in for one or stay for both!), including gentle movement for chronically stressed points, like neck, shoulders, wrists, and hands; and guided meditations oriented to relaxation and paying kind and compassionate attention. Open to RISD students, faculty, and staff.
Welcome back! The Nature Lab has undergone construction throughout the winter, and we are excited to start out the semester with a significant expansion to the collection. You will find more taxidermy specimens displayed on our walls, both new and familiar pieces. Come see the new layout during our open hours, posted on our website's contact page.
Two RISD alumni who worked at the Nature Lab in the late 80's visited this week; Julie Rabun 90/91 and Judi Hinsdell 91. Julie made many glass boxes while she worked here, possibly including this butterfly created in 1991. Let us know in the comments if you used to work at the Nature Lab as a student! We love to connect with alumni of all generations with connections to the Nature Lab.
Rhode Island PBS Weekly | Window on Rhode Island: The Nature Lab | Season 3 | Episode 49 | Rhode Island PBS Explore RISD’s Nature Lab, where unusual creatures are the norm.
For the past 10 years, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Series has been host to scholars, writers, artists and activists. This year, RISD welcomes Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum of Harlem, to join in conversation with the Center for Social Equity and Inclusion’s Teaching and Research Fellows Nichole T. Rustin and Zoé Samudzi. Their discussion will traverse a range of topics related to Golden’s curatorial practice, the history and future of the in Harlem, and Black art in contemporary practice.
Join us on January 18 at 6 pm in the RISD Auditorium. The MLK Keynote is free and open to the public but registration is required. Register at risd.edu/mlk, link in bio.
Please consider donating non-perishable food items for the Center for Student Involvement’s MLK Week Food Drive. Volunteers will accept items in the auditorium lobby before the event. Donations will go to the RI Food Bank and the RISD food pantry.
Call for submissions - submit your work to be featured by the Nature Lab! The Nature Lab is a source of inspiration for many RISD students, and we are always excited to see the myriad of ways that inspiration is expressed. Did you draw from textures, forms, or colors found at the Nature Lab in your work last semester? Did you use our imaging and microscopy equipment or biodesign lab to further your research into a project? Any medium of art/design/creative expression is welcome! We would love to see how you used our resources and responded to our collections. Submit your work at this link: https://tinyurl.com/yc2myvs5 (risd.edu email address required, non-students can DM us work!) 🌿
Image: purple leaf beetle (Plateumaris sp.) taken on the Macropod, Canon EOS 6D Mark II (digitally altered in first slide with neural filter)
The Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab at RISD is closed today for construction, and into next week for holiday break. We will reopen on Thursday, January 5th. Happy holidays!
Photo: opalized agate taken by Kat Jarvinen MFA 21 with the Macropod (Canon EOS 6D Mark II).
Introducing the second installment of the Nature Lab Biomaterial Workshop Series. This Saturday, Clara Boberg will lead biomaterial exploration by working with food scraps to make natural dye. Learn about the possibilities of dyeing with food scraps, what you need to get started, and have some tasty guacamole while we use the avocado pits and skins as well as other food scraps to dye bandanas! Open to RISD students. RSVP HERE >https://involved.risd.edu/event/8633096
OPEN CALL for student participation in RISD-KIA Research Collaborative
Tentative Theme: Coexisting Futures
RISD x KIA Research Collaborative (formerly RISD x Hyundai)
A partnership between Hyundai Motor Company, KIA, RISD Strategic Partnerships and RISD Nature Lab, with support from Co-Works
Apply now at the link in our bio - application closes at midnight on Monday, December 5.
Images from November's Biomaterial Workshop on invasive plant materials, led by Hope Leeson. Participants learned about invasive plant species such as asiatic bittersweet, Japanese knotweed, and phragmites reed. Samples from the Materials Collection at Fleet Library () were shown alongside collected plant material, highlighting possibilities for sculptural building materials, dye and fiber arts, and even papermaking with seaweed. Hope also highlighted the importance of safe and responsible collecting practices, as shown in slide 5. Stay tuned for the announcement of our December workshop soon via our social media pages, our website, and Involved.
Image descriptions: 1-2) Straining asiatic bittersweet berries for dye. 3) Hope Leeson's presentation on invasive species. 4) 'Codium fragile' (common names: Mermaid's hair and dead-man's fingers) seaweed papermaking. 5) Safe collection of phragmites reed by removing seed heads and bagging.
Visualization and Imaging Research Associate Georgia Rhodes recently found this tardigrade in some locally collected moss! Tardigrades are also known as water bears. There are many things that make these micro-animals unique, one of them being their ability to survive dehydration, extreme temperatures, pressure changes, and even radiation by undergoing a process called cryptobiosis.
It's also pretty cute, right?
Happy Thanksgiving from the Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab and our beautiful newly acquired Meleagris gallopavo (Turkey) taxidermy mount! This is just one of the many pieces recently donated by the Della Valle family. We are so grateful for their generous donation(s) and are excited for students to start working with the new specimens. Ask about the Della Valle taxidermy during your next visit, and we wish you a good Thanksgiving. Reminder: the Nature Lab is closed for Thanksgiving break, and will reopen on Sunday, November 27th.
The Nature Lab's founder, Edna Lawrence, was born on November 27th, 124 years ago. We will be celebrating her birthday on the following date, November 28th. The Nature Lab celebrates her birthday and life every year with cake, looking at some of her original specimens, and sharing information about her life to keep her legacy and connection to the Nature Lab strong. Stop by and grab a piece of cake and celebrate Edna! Event is open to all who wish to celebrate Edna Lawrence and her incredible contributions.
A few weeks ago, RISD and the Nature Lab received a visit from the leadership of Hyundai and Kia to celebrate the conclusion of another year of partnership with the exhibition Sustainable Futures: Co-creating with Nature. The exhibition brings together a group of talented researchers who developed their projects to create discussions about a more sustainable future. The exhibition is on view in the lobby of 20 Washington Place through December 31, 2022.
Find more details on the exhibition here: https://involved.risd.edu/event/8449725
Photos by Jo Sittenfeld MFA 08 PH
We are excited to introduce the first installment of our Biomaterial Workshop Series. This Saturday, November 5th from 12:30-2:30, Hope Leeson will lead biomaterial exploration using invasive plants such as Phragmites reed, Asiatic Bittersweet, and Red ulva seaweed. Learn what materials you can make with these otherwise harmful non-native plants and apply it to your own practice! Open to RISD students. *Please RSVP on Involved to attend at this link https://involved.risd.edu/event/8557618 , limited to 15 participants.*
Join the folks at the Nature Lab on Halloween night, October 31st, from 8-10 pm for Monstera Mash! Explore the natural fluorescence of some of our specimens with UV light, learn about the interesting folklore surrounding our critters, enjoy some treats, and take home your own monstera adansonii cutting! Treats and plants are limited, first come first served, and for the RISD community only. This event is campus-wide and will occur during our open hours. Hope to see you there!
Hyundai Research Collaborative Exhibition
Opening Thursday, October 27th; on view through December 31, 2022.
@ 20 Washington Place, RISD.
A creative practice demands constant forms of seeking inspiration. The process moves in different loops, circles, diagonal lines, often etching an artwork on its own. This year's theme revolves around the journey followed by a multidisciplinary group of artists, designers, and researchers on their way to finding inspiration in nature when imagining a sustainable future. From the coral reefs under the sea, to the species that live at the edge of the ocean, from the movement of insects, to how trees flutter in the autumn months.
In the Spring of 2022, 37 students led by 4 faculty conducted research ranging from the nature of light, seeing and perception to the ethical considerations of the future of AI, and what it might mean to enable a robotics future that is attuned with non-exploitative forms of life. Students researched sustainable materials and 3D fabrication techniques, and considered how “failures” in natural systems can be opportunities for diverse resilient strategies to unfold.
(Revision: Spelling correction.)
Please extend a warm welcome to Wessummussoh, our new corn snake! He is ~10 years old and came to us from a family in Connecticut. His name is the Narragansett word for 'Little Brother', in reference to his predecessor, Netop (="friend"), who was an ambassador for snakes and a beloved friend at the Nature Lab for many years. "Wes" is an excellent tunneler and climber, a lover of pockets and plants, and we are excited to continue to get to know him and his unique personality. Many thanks to endawnis Spears for the name suggestion, and Lorén Spears (and her mother) for teaching us how to pronounce it. Come meet Wessummussoh during our open hours!
A series of images by student Benjamin Garbus 25 ID (.img on Instagram). "This is a photo series I am making using the macropod camera in the nature lab, which stitches together layers of focus on a macro lens to create high detail images. I wanted to compare and contrast nature with plastic objects, mostly poorly made replicas. I found that both have an extreme amount of detail, just in different ways."
The Macropod is a wonderful imaging resource; we're always excited to see students working with our equipment to further their art/design practice. Learn more about the equipment and resources we offer on our website (link in bio).
Submit your work to the Nature Lab!
We always love to see what students have been working on, especially inspired by resources at the Nature Lab. Whether through photographs, sketches, art, design, writing, or simply by observing, share your moments in nature and your creative expressions of the natural world through this form https://forms.gle/e2BQ6bSKq9X1kp656 . We would love to share!
This illustration of moths is by our founder, Edna Lawrence.
Biomaterials Workshops are periodically held throughout the academic year, open to both RISD and Brown students + faculty. Workshops include a presentation over the uses and application of biomaterials, lab protocol overview, and a bioplastics making session.
Workshops will be held on the following dates:
Saturday, September 24th, 2022
Saturday, October 22nd, 2022
Saturday, November 19th, 2022
Saturday, December 3rd, 2022
No prior experience required. Sign up for a workshop at this link < https://calendly.com/nature-lab-biomaterials >
Photo credit: Yujin Hwang
Students are back on campus and hard at work at the Nature Lab, finding inspiration in the colors, textures, and forms of our collection. First-year students in Assistant Professor Daniel Heyman's EFS Design class are pictured here working with specimens up-close to observe their graphic qualities.
Rest and regenerate your mind and body in the Nature Lab's Biodesign Makerspace. We will be holding weekly meditation sessions, led by Liz Maynard, on Wednesdays from 12:30 - 1:30 pm, beginning next week. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Waterman room 11, featuring our green wall and aquatic tanks. Open to the RISD community.
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