Transdisciplinary design scientist and complex systems theorist Melissa Sterry is recognised as a world-leading authority on the science, technology, design, and thinking that could help humanity to build a better world. Primarily working with projects that chart unprecedented conceptual, creative, and commercial potentialities, including several first-to-market start-ups, Melissa has extensive experience of working with leading-edge ideas, individuals, and institutions worldwide.
A recipient of several national and international innovation, creativity and enterprise awards, including the Mensa Education and Research Foundation International Award for enhancing intelligence that benefits society, Melissa is a '40 over 40 Women to Watch' honouree, was listed in the 'Libertine 100' - one hundred women with complex, beautiful and potentially world-changing ideas, and an inductee of the Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network Hall of Fame.
One of the world’s most high profile futurists, Melissa consults to both executive-level private and public sector clients globally. Specialising in futures in the built environment, utilities, manufacturing, engineering, design, publishing, media and communications, she has contributed to groundbreaking projects and publications as far and wide as the United States, South and South East Asia, UK, and Europe.
Regularly featured throughout the media, Melissa is published in over sixty international trade, consumer and academic titles. She has participated in wide-ranging media productions for film, television, radio and internet, including podcasts, to-camera interviews, fly-on-the-wall documentaries, presenting, and both live and pre-recorded radio interviews. Past assignments include featured expert and media figurehead in Interface's 'Beautiful Thinking' campaign; technology figurehead for The Guardian’s ‘The Future Designed Around You’ supplement, sponsored by Volvo; in conversation on future cities with Neil deGrasse Tyson for Star Talk radio; and presenting 'Leonardo's City' for BBC Radio 4.
Since 2010, Melissa has conducted transdisciplinary research into the potential for building urban and peri-urban resilience to major meteorological, geological, and ecological disruptions through the mimicry of the biochemistries, behaviours, relationships and systems of flora and fauna, and the assemblages the form. Outputs include her PhD, which completed at the Advanced Virtual and Technological Architecture Research [AVATAR] group in London, posits a radical new architectural and urban design paradigm for the wildland urban interface. Her thesis and its legacy research and publishing works are shared through digital open access project Panarchic Codex® [est. 2018].
Melissa is the founder/director of London-based biofuturism consultancy Bioratorium® [Est. 2019], its lab Labioratorium®, and of Bionic City® [Est. 2010], which asking “how would nature design a city?", explores the potential of biodesign, biomimetics, and biotechnology in the built environments of the now, near and far future. Developing original research, concepts and creative works, Bionic City® has attracted a global community of interest and has collaboration and co-creation partners across multiple cutting-edge disciplines worldwide. Her earliest interrogations dating to the early 90s, Melissa has 25+ years experience in researching and developing original biomaterial, bioinformatic, and bioinspired concepts in textiles, fashion, architecture, construction, urban planning, and infrastructure. In addition to her wider activities in design and design research, she has recently launched Biotique® - collections of British-made luxury soft furnishings, dining ware, stationary, and accessories featuring her surface pattern designs. Made-on-demand using manufacturing processes that reduce material and ink wastage to an absolute minimum, her collections are inspired by the beauty of the natural world.
To date, Melissa has contributed as keynote speaker, panelist and/or panel chair at more than a hundred leading international conferences, seminars, festivals, awards ceremonies, and product launches in regions including Europe, Northern America, South and South East Asia, Australasia, and Russia, for clients including World Bank, Unilever, Toyota, Interface, McKinsey, Schneider Electric, Balfour Beatty, Ministry of Defence, Manchester International Festival, Edinburgh International Science Festival, University of Oxford's Climate Forum, and University of Cambridge's Festival of Ideas, among many more. Melissa has further contributed in the capacity of editor-in-chief, guest editor, editorial board member and curator to several digital and print design, architecture, urban, arts, and style books and magazines worldwide.
Her past and present academic activities include visiting lecturer, visiting fellow, workshop host, Masters thesis supervisor, guest critic, external examiner, peer-reviewer, and assembly and scientific committee member at several leading European architecture, built environment, and design research institutes and organisations, including The Bartlett at UCL, University of the Arts London, University of Innsbruck, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Architectural Association School of Architecture, Ravensbourne, University of Greenwich, and the University of Salford, among others. Her wider affiliations include guest professor with Professors Without Borders.
A graduate of the world's first interdisciplinary design bachelors degree course , she started her career working with both traditional and emerging digital design and communications media, founding her first business within a year of graduation. She has further founded and directed several high-profile creative projects throughout her career, including award-winning sustainability think tank and collaborative laboratory Societás [2004 - 2010]; award-winning catalyst for rapid innovation in sustainable design for the built environment, New Frontiers [2008 - 2010]; and the world's first online visual arts awards - the Creative Graduate Prize - for photography, painting, illustration, and installation art [2004 - 2010] and the Iconique Societás Awards - for fashion photography, illustration, styling, and art direction [2007 - 2010].
A chartered scientist with the Science Council and fellow of the Institute of Science and Technology, of the Design Research Society, and the Royal Society of Arts, in addition to her doctorate and professional accreditations, Melissa's qualifications include a Postgraduate Certificate with Commendation in Innovation and Enterprise from Kingston University London, and a Bachelor of Arts with Honours and Commendation for her final year thesis in Design Practice from the University of Salford.