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  Michael E. Helms, Ph.D.


Welcome, and thank you for visiting. I am a design researcher, teacher, technologist, and consultant. Please visit any of the links above, for a deeper dive into my assorted interests.


I am a versatile professional with a backgrounds in cognitive science, design theory, technology consulting, computer programming and financial services. I completed a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2013, and recently completed NSF's entrepreneurial I-CORPS program as an entrepreneurial lead. Prior to my PhD I worked as a technology consultant building business cases for the development of large data infrastructure projects.

In conjunction with with the Center for Biologically Inspired Design I provide design consulting services focused on product innovation by leveraging insight gleaned from 3.8 billion years of evolution. Most recently I began research with the Center for Education (CEISMC), working on modeling school interventions as complex social systems.


I teach Introduction to Cognitive Science at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. I also teach biologically inspired design, with notable classes at Georgia Institute of Technology, NASA and Tohoku University in Japan.

Design Consulting

Using the proven techniques I developed in nearly a decade of research in biologically inspired design, we systematically apply biologically inspired design to leverage our experience and 3.8 billion years of evolution to creatively transform the design space. Where most biomimicry specialists stop at conceptual design, our scientists and engineers provide the deep understanding and know-how to deliver both novel concepts and a strategy for realizing those concepts.


I recently completed the NSF I-CORPS as the entrepreneurial lead. The I-CORPS program was developed to transition research from academia to the real world. As an entrepreneurial lead, I used Steve Blank's Lean Start Up methodology to research product-market fit and develop the business model for our educational technology platform. Our research included more than 100 customer discovery interviews with customers, distributors and business partners, and provided strong validation for the product in a discovered target customer segment. As a result, we are currently in negotiations to integrate our platform with a major publishing firm, and applying for first round NSF SBR funding.

Big Data Consulting

My past careers include 6 years in marketing and planning for a subsidiary of Zurich Financial, and 7 years as a business consultant with Teradata. As a consultant, I worked closely with our sales teams on sales motions and with clients as the lead consultant on billable engagements including business discovery, requirements gathering, information strategy, and business value assessments. A common thread between my research and work, I specialize in facilitating interdisciplinary communication whether between marketing and IT, or biologists and mechanical engineers.