Dimitri Deheyn is a Scripps marine biologist developing research in the field of biomimicry: the process of emulating Nature to support green and sustainable innovations for various industries. His research aims at understanding the fundamental mechanisms responsible for specific adaptations organisms have developed to thrive under particular conditions, in aquatic or terrestrial environments. The findings can then be used for biotechnological, biomedical and/or bioengineering applications, thus improving societal needs through biomimicry, or bioinspiration. Inherently, his research covers a broad range of topics, including UV-protection, bioadhesion/anti-biofouling, biophotonics and biomaterials with unusual combination of properties. His research also relates to “living light”, the production of light through bioluminescence (visible light produced following a chemical reaction) or through fluorescence (visible light produced following excitation with a blue or black light), but also through structural coloration and iridescence (visible coloration from “filtering or manipulating” sunlight). Change in living lights can then be used as reporter for biosensing. All these biological properties are at the intersect with material science and bioengineering, making Deheyn’s expertise cross-disciplinary and bridging the gap between academia and industry, for which he founded the BEST Initiative (Biomimicry for Emerging Science and Technology; https://scripps.ucsd.edu/labs/deheyn/best/).
Deheyn earned his Ph.D. on fundamental and applied aspects of bioluminescence in 1998, from the Free Thinking University of Brussels (ULB), Belgium. In 1999, he moved to Scripps Institution of Oceanography where he is now an Associate Research Scientist, to work on the applications of living lights, and to a broader sense biomimicry.