Why She’s Interesting: Kennedy and a group of University of Akron students began researching ways to reduce risk of concussions by studying animals who can withstand shock absorption. Ultimately, Kennedy created a liner for a football helmet that can help prevent concussions using impact-protection technology that utilizes layers of shock absorbers similar to a hedgehog’s quills.
Down Under: While earning her bachelor’s degree in international relations at Colgate University, she studied abroad in Australia at the University of Wollongong, where she took her first biomimicry class. “I’d always liked being in nature. I didn’t think of nature as a place you go to explore and search for solutions to technical challenges.”
Body Armor: In 2015, after studying bighorn sheep and woodpeckers, Kennedy and her peers settled on hedgehogs, discovering they would ball themselves up when escaping predators or falling. “Their internal organs and head are protected. They’re just this ball of quills essentially and those quills have evolved shock absorbing properties.”
Knit Knack: Kennedy is no stranger to sharp objects. When she’s not working, hiking, biking or running, she’s knitting a variety of projects. “One of my sisters, Julia, is really into knitting, so she taught me how. I knit hats, gloves and right now I am working on a green and gray baby blanket for my friend."
Kennedy’s most treasured item is a Buddha statue her grandfather brought back from the Korean War. She rubs its belly when she’s nervous or just needs a little luck.
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