TURNING ZEBRA MUSSELS INTO GLASS

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August 3, 2020

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Notre Dame grad wins international biodesign competition, says NDP's IB program was hugely instrumental in her interest and ultimate success within the color and material design field in college.

The winning project in the 2020 International Biodesign Challenge was submitted by 2015 Notre Dame alum Emily Marquette and a team from the College from Creative Studies.


Emily Marquettte NDP'15 and a team of College for Creative Studies graduate students took the grand prize at this year’s Biodesign Challenge (BDC), an international education program and competition that partners students with biologists, artists, and designers to envision, create and critique emerging biotechnology.

Marquette and her team virtually presented their project, “Zebra Glass,” at the Biodesign Challenge Summit in June along with 44 other student teams from countries around the world. Each project was judged by a panel of 50 experts from academia, the arts and industry, and finalists were from 12 countries across six continents.

For their project, Marquette and her CCS teammates proposed using zebra and quagga mussels, which are invasive to the Great Lakes ecosystem, as a source of calcium carbonate in the creation of region-based artisanal soda lime glass. The students' project aimed to transform these species from an ecological threat to an over-abundant resource that can be harvested and used for various building and decorative applications.

Click here to watch a video of the winning project: https://youtu.be/2nq5StOmac8

According to Marquette, who is in the MFA program at CCS studying color and material design, this year was the first time the college participated in the international challenge.

"The Biodesign Challenge participation was introduced as a new curriculum change to my materials lab course at CCS," she said. "In our class, one group was chosen by faculty and external industry professionals to represent CCS in the competition. Collaboration with other students and departments within CCS also aided us as we began our project."

Adaptability and resilience

Their winning project — a collaborative effort by CCS students Mahsa Banadaki, Wei Huang and Marquette — was under the guidance of CCS adjunct professor Matthew Strong. The team also worked interdepartmentally with assistance from CCS Craft and Material Studies Chair Kim Harty and Assistant Professor and Section Head of Ceramics Ebitenyefa Baralaye. CCS noted on a press release that not only did the team demonstrate their creativity, but also their adaptability and resilience as "they worked under the added challenge of a global pandemic."

Marquette said International Baccalaureate studies at Notre Dame Prep were instrumental in her university success.


Chair of CCS Color and Materials Design, Sally Erickson Wilson, said there already are plans for Zebra Glass 2.0 and the larger movement of ‘better’ materials. 

"Our vision in color and materials design is that student work creates outcomes via non-obvious, material-led practices that result in a creative vision," Wilson added. "Then, working with cross-disciplinary teams, students can translate that vision into viable concepts. These projects are conversation starters where we hope people, consumers and businesses start paying extra attention.”

For Marquette, her interest in the effects of material and color on design began during undergraduate studies at Michigan State University.

"When I was a sophomore at MSU, I began the portfolio review process for acceptance into the upper division of the interior design program," she said. "While applying, I began looking at MFA programs elsewhere where I could further pursue design, as I became interested in the effects of material and color within a project."

She said her top choices were Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia for historic preservation or CCS in Detroit for color and material design. 

"In MSU's interior design program, I was exposed to material landscapes and felt certain that I wanted to continue studying the importance and specificity of color and materials on a design whether it be in an environment or through a product," she said, "which is why I ended up at CCS."

NDP big part of success in college

The organization behind the BDC competition said participants would have presented their projects live this year at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, but due to the pandemic, they had to pivot to an online format.

Past BDC teams have turned their projects into venture-backed companies and have collectively raised over $2.5 million in funds. Their projects and designs have won awards that included the H&M Global Change Award and the National Geographic Chasing Genius Award. They also have exhibited at museums, galleries and design festivals around the world, including Dutch Design Week, NYCxDesign, London Design Festival, the Tech Museum and elsewhere.

Marquette understandably is proud of winning the challenge this year, but she's quick to also give credit to her high school alma mater and its International Baccalaureate program.

"I was in the IB program at NDP with concentrations in IB Visual Art, IB English and IB History," said Emily, whose twin sister, Claire, also graduated from NDP. "The level of thought and emphasis on process in the IB program helped me transition into college and graduate school seamlessly. The IB program instilled an academic confidence in me that allowed me to feel prepared in any assignment."

She added that NDP also prepares its IB students to broadly think through and assess each assignment with the appropriate time-management skills, and then respond accordingly and efficiently to complete each task. 

"The IB program's emphasis on connecting elements of ideas has supported me in my continued academic career by identifying cross-disciplinary connections in order to reach a solution," she said. "Being able to recognize connections and establish collaborations between subjects and colleagues has been one of the most valuable skills I learned at NDP.

"In addition, Mrs. [Sandra] LewAllen's IB Visual Art course allowed me to see the opportunities within art and design for my future career, beyond just practicing fine arts," Marquette said. "And Mr. [Anthony] Butorac's IB English class allowed me to feel confident in my writing at both college and graduate studies level of work. Mr. Butorac's emphasis on prioritizing the use of language to express ideas while studying aesthetic qualities of text and literature has been hugely beneficial for my academic and professional writing skills."

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.