Andrew Pelling: This scientist makes ears out of apples
TED Fellow Andrew Pelling is a biohacker, and nature is his hardware. His favorite materials are the simplest ones (and oftentimes he finds them in the garbage). Building on the cellulose structure that gives an apple its shape, he “grows” lifelike human ears, pioneering a process that might someday be used to repair body parts safely and cheaply. And he has some even wilder ideas to share … “What I’m really curious about is if one day it will be possible to repair, rebuild and augment our own bodies with stuff we make in the kitchen,” he says.
Why you should listen
Scientist, professor, entrepreneur and TED Fellow Andrew Pelling has built a career on unapologetic curiosity, creativity and serendipity. He is a professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Ottawa where he founded and directs a curiosity-driven research lab that brings together artists, scientists, social scientists and engineers. The lab uses low-cost, open source materials and methods to explore speculative living technologies of the future. He has created human body parts from plants and grown living skins on LEGOs — innovations with the potential to replace prohibitively expensive commercial biomaterials.
Pelling is cofounder and CSO of Spiderwort, a company developing innovative plant-derived biomaterials and medical devices for reconstructive surgery and regenerative medicine. He also founded pHacktory, a street-level research lab in Ottawa that amplifies community ideas through a potent mixture of craft, serendipity and curiosity.
Pelling’s work has been in the international media spotlight for many years and recognized in outlets such as Wired, Huffington Post, NPR, Scientific American, Popular Science, BBC, Der Spiegel, Deutsche Welle and others, as well as numerous highlights in the Canadian media and Scientific media. He was named a TED Fellow in 2016.