Animal Architects #519

April 05, 2019

Don't make the mistake of thinking that humans are the only species that's mastered architecture. There are bugs out in this world that form huge, self healing structures out of their own bodies. And there are other bugs that form fountains of thousands - all to destroy a pizza in just a few hours. Move over, pirhanas. The black soldier fly larvae are here. This week, we talk to Olga Shishkov and Sulisay Phonekeo about their work studying living animal structures, and what that could mean for how we build and how we deal with our rapidly mounting piles of trash.

Related links:

This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.


  • Olga Shishkov
  • Sulisay Phonekeo
Listen Now

Guest Bios

Olga Shishkov

Olga Shishkov is a PhD candidate studying mechanical engineering in David Hu's Biolocomotion lab at Georgia Tech. Her thesis work is on the biomechanics of black soldier fly larvae. These larvae eat twice their body weight in food waste per day, and can be used as sustainable chicken or fish feed. Olga hopes to understand how the interactions of these larvae with each other affect how they eat and how they respond to external forces, and to design technology to raise them more efficiently.

Sulisay Phonekeo

Sulisay Phonekeo is currently working as a mechanical engineer in Atlanta, Georgia after graduating from Georgia Tech in 2015. He worked under Dr. David L. Hu in the Biolocomotion lab researching how fire ants assemble to form self-healing living structures such as bridges and towers. In his free time he likes to travel abroad and bike around the city as a way to explore.