Student feeding fish at the Nature Lab

With state-of-the-art imaging systems and more than 80,000 specimens, the Nature Lab offers students unmediated access to authentic natural history objects, while supporting creative inquiry into biomimetics, biophilic design, ecology and climate change. High-end microscopes, high-speed cameras and other advanced imaging systems provide access to specimens at multiple scales and enable students to learn about design in nature while exploring fruitful connections between artistic and scientific research.

Learning about design through nature

As a campus-wide resource and forum for exploring the exciting connections between art, design and science, the Nature Lab is a hub for research, with staff and facilities to help support the increasing number of science courses offered at RISD. Students find a natural entry point here for addressing issues of sustainable living through biodesign—emerging areas of inquiry that include biomimetics, biophilic design and the use of natural and biological materials in architecture and building systems.

Hands-on access to collections

Deep observation of the disparate collections housed at the Nature Lab—from nearly nano-scale to life-sized objects—provides students the opportunity to touch and examine specimens from the natural world, discover the wonder and complexities of design in nature and inform their studio work through the processes, materials and organizing principles found in the living world. Selected specimens may also be borrowed for short periods of time—like checking a book out of the library.