Abstract / Synopsis

I’m a professor in the Department of Biology and Health Sciences at Edinboro University, in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, a small, comprehensive liberal arts institution within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. My major teaching duties involve environmental biology, zoology, and ichthyology. I emphasize to my students how mathematics underlies the natural world of plants and animals, pointing out to them how many of “our” most amazing engineering and constructional achievements are copied from nature (from geodesic domes to the fusiform bows of modern commercial ships), as well as how plant and animal physiology and animal behavior (of individuals and of groups) can be modelled mathematically.

The poems in this folder are a collection of five-line perspectives on the theme of “natural by design” presented in “tanka-like” format, i.e., written in the spirit of tanka, if not always strictly adhering to the traditional form in all instances. “Gridlife” plays homage not only to Descartes, but also to a humble house fly that, as the story goes, so profoundly influenced mathematics; “Sunflowers” draws attention to just one example of a natural Fibonacci sequence; “Constructals” came to mind when I happened to walk by a deserted parking lot that appeared “barren” at first glance, but on closer inspection revealed itself to be a hotbed of formic construction projects in progress; and “Skyfruit” arose from a serendipitous glance out a window one night when maple tree and moon were in just the right alignment.

―Craig W. Steele, Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, USA.