Design Students Compete as Finalists with Biodesign Project
SeaNails, a team of UC Davis design students, will be competing as finalists with their project at the Biodesign Challenge Summit 2023, June 22-23. This year’s summit will be held in person at the Museum of Modern Art and Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Professor Christina Cogdell, instructor of DES 128A and DES 128B, a two-quarter course called Biodesign Challenge, leads the student team, along with spring quarter co-instructor Andrew Yao, manager of the UC Davis BioInnovation Lab. The team consists of undergraduate students Yuwei Chang (bioscience), Sarika Kumar (design and mechanical engineering), Daniel Martinez (design and mathematics) and Leslie Valdez (design).
SeaNails are fully biodegradable press-on nails with polish and glitter made almost entirely from waste from fisheries. The nail itself is a fish scale cut to size, dyed in sugarbeet waste/dye, with glue made from fish air bladders, shimmer from fish skin guanine (which makes fish shine rainbow in the sun), with insect shellac as the hardener.
The team is a collaboration with a local start-up Aquaborne, who is the first US fish leather start-up in Sacramento. Their founder Nick (Nodar) Narsavidze reached out to UC Davis Department of Design in January 2023 to discuss design uses for fish leather that he is tanning, with waste from California fisheries. SeaNails uses the waste from Aquaborne’s process, so in essence, maximizing use of the waste from ocean catching as well as the local caviar industry.
The UC Davis team will present their project at the Summit and compete for the coveted Glass Microbe before a jury of leading industry, academic, and curatorial experts. The team is one of 46 finalist teams from 15 countries who spent the semester imagining, creating, and critiquing future applications of biotechnology and its role in society.
On June 22, the Biodesign Challenge will hold a gallery opening at Arnhold Hall at Parsons’ New School. The opening is free to the public and will feature artifacts and images created by the students.