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Polygence Scholar2022
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Asha Gopinath

Windward SchoolClass of 2023Los Angeles, California



  • "Making and engineering sustainable textiles and fabric from macro- and microalgae." with mentor Thien (Oct. 15, 2022)

Asha's Symposium Presentation

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Making and engineering sustainable textiles and fabric from macro- and microalgae.

Started Feb. 19, 2022

Abstract or project description

The students aim to answer the research question: How can we incorporate organisms into fashion and design to make it more sustainable? She will be making her own textile out of macroalgae harvested and dried from the intertidal, then designing a garment to go with this piece. She will also learn how to hypothetically bioengineer a microalga to perform in bioremediation. The student will use Adobe Illustrator to design each garment, and complete the project with a Powerpoint of her work.

The modern fashion industry places more emphasis on affordability and efficiency over sustainability, making up about 10% of global carbon emissions. With cheap clothing costs and fast availability for customers, there has been growing support for fast-fashion. As a result, almost 3.8 billion pounds of clothes are thrown away every year. However, more and more people have begun to express environmental concerns with the rise of climate change, putting pressure on the fashion industry to adapt and find innovative ways to promote more sustainable practices. This, in part, can be enabled by the collaboration between designers and scientists to create textiles which are more sustainable and safe for the environment. Here we aim to create two textiles from micro- and macroalgae which can be used as a sustainable fabric alternative. We will theorize how microalgae can be used to create an eco-polyester by genetically modifying Nannochloropsis oceanica to produce more algaenan in its cell walls. Additionally, we will harvest macroalgae off the coast of Southern California, dry it, and combine it with agar and glycerol to create a textile. We will then use our physical and theoretical textiles to design garments using Adobe Illustrator, offering possible alternatives to the harmful state of the current fashion industry.