BEST Labber Sonia Travaglini was highlighted in an article in Berkeley Engineering in March 2015.
Sonia is a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering, studying the properties of the fungi kingdom to find new sources for sustainable composites. She is also looking for sustainable applications in the developing world and is getting a PhD minor (Designated Emphasis) in Development Engineering.
Life-cycle sustainability is a major factor that might make these materials economically attractive. “What really surprised me about mycelium is that it can grow off of organic waste,” she says. “So all the waste from the logging industry, or sawdust, or agricultural waste, you just literally combine it with mushrooms and off it goes, and it will create a material.”
“Then we discovered that you can compost this material and it would even digest itself, so after you finished using it, you can use that material to grow a new set of material,” Travaglini says. “I was fascinated, I have never seen such a low-cost, low-impact material.”