SUBJECT: Ph.D. Dissertation Defense
BY: Zackery Morris
TIME: Friday, June 5, 2020, 8:30 a.m.
TITLE: Improving Industrial Networks through Biologically-Inspired Urban-Industrial Ecosystems
COMMITTEE: Bert Bras, Chair (ME)
Marc Weissburg (Biology)
John Crittenden (CEE)
Julie Linsey (ME)
Kate Fu (ME)
Astrid Layton (ME (Texas A&M))


Urban and industrial systems are some of the most important human-designed systems that have an incredible impact on critical resources such as water, energy, and food. These systems must be continually improved and made more sustainable in order to survive. Natural ecosystems are some of the most sustainable systems that exist and therefore can serve as a biological inspiration for the urban and industrial systems. This dissertation examines Urban-Industrial Ecosystems through the lens of ecology by creating an analogy between natural and human-designed systems. Using Ecological Network Analysis, it is shown how human systems have considerably worse ecological performance when compared to their natural counterpart. In addition, through the analysis of these Urban-Industrial Ecosystems, key actors are identified and the networks are compared one to another to understand the core characteristics of these systems. Design principles are created to help lessen the gap in performance as well as create systems that are more resilient and generate less waste and emissions. This is done by introducing new roles into these systems that include processing waste, providing additional sources of resources, and utilizing resources that would otherwise be exported for the system. Through modification, these systems are able to capture some of the potential of nature, showing increased ecological performance and sustainability.