Julia O'Rourke is hoping her research in sustainable design will change the world by helping engineers reduce the environmental impact of the products they are designing. She is currently focused on identifying sustainability trends in environmentally-advantageous products inspired by systems in nature. The ultimate goal of this work is to develop tools to help engineers generate novel and sustainable products by helping them identify helpful biological analogies that offer a sustainability advantage.
Receiving the Powers Fellowship as an incoming student allowed O'Rourke to conduct research on a topic about which she is passionate and make substantial progress in her research in her first year of study.
O'Rourke was awarded a continuing Powers Fellowship to be used in her first and fourth years of doctoral study, including summertime funding. She is also the recipient of a one year National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She plans to graduate in 2014.