National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Team Members

The Biomimicry Team at NASA Glenn Research Center was established as a stepping stone to creating a successful virtual collaboration framework for bio-inspired exploration. The team’s purpose is to:

  • Create a virtual interchange for biomimicry to solve NASA and national challenges
  • Provide resources related to biomimicry and nature-inspired research
  • Promote creativity and innovation in partnership with Glenn’s Creativity and Innovation Team to achieve NASA goals
  • Facilitate rapid adoption of biomimicry approaches across all competencies


Dr. Vikram Shyam, or “Vik”, is an expert in biomimicry and propulsion flow dynamics, and founder of the biomimicry group V.I.N.E. (Virtual Interchange for Nature-inspired Exploration) at the NASA Glenn Research Center.

V.I.N.E. applies nature’s principles to solve technical and institutional challenges at NASA. Vik and fellow collaborators are studying the application of harbor seal morphology to wind turbine struts and gas turbine blades, probes, sensors and other objects that are subject to vortex induced vibrations or variable operating conditions. They are also studying biomimetic philosophy and tools to bridge the gap between science, engineering and biology.

Vik also serves as the turbine lead for the Turbomachinery and Turboelectric Systems Branch at Glenn Research Center. In this position, he is responsible for leading Glenn’s turbine technology development to reduce fuel burn and emissions for future generation aircraft engines.  Other areas of research and interests include energy harvesting, multi-functional structures, and development of new concepts for in-space exploration, long range planning and STEM education.

Vik earned his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Ph.D. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from The Ohio State University. He has received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, NASA’s Early Career Achievement Medal, NASA Group Achievement Award and the ASEI Young Engineer Award.



Dr. Tiffany Williams is a Research Chemical Engineer in the Materials Chemistry and Physics Branch in the Materials and Structures Division.  She joined the NASA Glenn Research Center in 2010, where she has worked as a Materials Scientist on a variety of projects related to the development, design, and process optimization of lightweight nanocomposites, textiles, morphing aircraft structures, polymer matrix composites, multi-functional materials, and electrically insulating materials for high voltage applications.  Her current research interests include developing multi-functional materials and advancing research efforts in biomimicry to develop nature-inspired materials and processes for deep-space missions and more efficient aircraft.

Williams has served as NASA Glenn’s Materials Development Technical Lead for the Game Changing Development Program’s Structural Nanomaterials project (in collaboration with NASA LaRC and MSFC), where the focus was on developing high strength, lightweight nanocomposite overwrap materials for composite overwrap pressure vessel applications.  She co-leads the Multifunctional Materials and Structures biomimicry cluster and serves as Technical Chair for Summit 2017: Nature-Inspired Exploration for Aerospace.

Dr. Williams was a recipient of the Women of Color in STEM “Rising Technology All-Star” Award.  She received both a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Tuskegee University.  She also received a Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Cincinnati.



Herb Schilling is a computer scientist at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Schilling leads a team in scientific applications and visualization and performs scientific software development on projects for researchers and engineers.  He co-leads the Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning biomimicry cluster.

For more than 25 years, Schilling has participated in a variety of outreach events in schools, local youth clubs, and other organizations throughout the community.  These include activity booths and presentations, which allows students, parents, and other community members to experience exciting hands-on activities and an opportunity to meet a real NASA scientist.

Schilling received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics from Case Western Reserve University. Over the years, Schilling has received the Exceptional Service Medal Award, the Wings of Excellence Award, and the OHTec Tech Team of the Year award.



Calvin Robinson is a software developer and project manager for the Graphics and Visualization (GVIS) Team at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Calvin serves as a Co-Coordinator of Biomimicry Technical Outreach. He works with researchers in Applied Biomimicry at GRC and other leading organizations in the field to help promote awareness and adoption of Biomimicry as a research and engineering method.  He co-leads the Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning biomimicry cluster.

As a software developer, Calvin contributes to major projects, including Integrated Radio Frequency, Optical Communication (iROC) and Augmented Reality for 2D Fluid Dynamics. His work has been presented once through the Institute for the Science of Origins at Case Western Reserve University and has been the featured exhibit at NASA booths for numerous community events.

Calvin has received the BEYA Modern Day Technology Leaders Award, the FEB Wings of Excellence Award and 2 NASA Glenn Group Achievement Awards. He received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Toledo.



Dr. Isaiah M. Blankson serves as the senior technologist in the Aeropropulsion Division at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. His current research includes: MHD Energy Bypass Engine Concepts (Mach 0 – 7) for Space-Access vehicles, hypersonic waverider aircraft, passive millimeter wave imaging applied to issues in aviation safety, nature-inspired engineering, and the use of non-equilibrium plasma for applications in aerodynamics, propulsion, liquid hydrocarbon fuel enhancement, water purification, energy, and the environment.  Dr. Blankson co-leads the Mobility biomimicry cluster.

Before joining NASA, Dr. Blankson was an aerospace scientist at the General Electric Global Research Center, where he conducted research on hypervelocity plasma-armature projectile launchers and gas-dynamic circuit breakers.

Dr. Blankson has several U.S. patents, including one on an MHD-controlled turbojet engine. He is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). In 2012, Blankson was the recipient of the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Professional for Sustained Superior Accomplishment.

Blankson received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Ph.D degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, specializing in Hypersonic Aerodynamics and Propulsion. At MIT, he was the recipient of the Luis de Florez Award for Excellence in Engineering.



 Gail Perusek serves as project manager at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

She leads a dynamic team of engineers and researchers in the development of advanced exercise concepts, to deliver next generation exercise countermeasures systems for Orion and for demonstration on the International Space Station.  Perusek served as principle investigator with collaborators from the Cleveland Clinic to develop the “Glenn Harness” which successfully flew on station and transitioned to operations in 2011. Glenn’s Harness allows astronauts to exercise more effectively on the ISS “T2 Treadmill”.

She received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Case Western Reserve University. Perusek  has 27 years of experience with NASA, over 40 publications and two U.S. patents.



Jeff DeMange has been conducting high-temperature seals research in support of NASA since 2001. During this time, he has been responsible for the development and operation of several unique seal test rigs, including a high-temperature test rig for conducting mechanical and tribological testing of advanced seal concepts, a high-temperature flow rig, an elevated-temperature rotary wear rig, and several room-temperature seal leak test fixtures.

Jeff received his Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering from Purdue University and his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University.



Mark Celestina is the Technical Lead for Integrated Boundary Layer Ingestion (IBLI) subproject under the Advanced Air Transport Technology (AATT) project.

Mark has been working on numerically simulating multi-stage turbomachinery flows since 1983 and was instrumental in developing APNASA under the Lewis Research Academy. He joined the Turbomachinery Branch at NASA Glenn in 2007 and worked on numerical simulations of multi-stage compressors. His research focus was on the accurate simulations of highly-loaded compressors.

Mark received his Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from St. Louis University and his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Cincinnati..