Dimitri Deheyn

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. His research aims to understand the fundamental mechanisms responsible for specific adaptations that organisms have evolved 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. This also, and most importantly, includes mechanisms and functions of light production through bioluminescence (visible light produced following a chemical reaction) and fluorescence (visible light produced following excitation with a blue or black light), but also structural coloration and iridescence (visible coloration from “filtering or manipulating” sunlight). In addition it involves the role structures in bioadhesion and/or biodegradation (or prevention thereof).


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. in 1998 from the Free Thinking University of Brussels (ULB), Belgium. His PhD thesis was on fundamental aspects of bioluminescence in marine invertebrates. In 1999, he moved to Scripps Institution of Oceanography where he is now an Associate Research Scientist, to work on the applications of light production, light manipulation for intense coloration, and to a broader sense biomimicry.

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