The interaction of engineering and biology has created exciting opportunities for discoveries, inventions, and commercialization. At Duke Soft Active Materials Laboratory, we are transforming an essential feature of biology systems into engineering materials and devices, i.e. to receive stimuli from the environment and then move. In this talk, I will focus on novel soft materials capable of giant deformations in response to electric and magnetic fields. The fundamental physics and mechanics for the active deformation of these materials will be first discussed. Thereafter, I will introduce novel applications of these materials in areas as diverse as energy storage, energy harvesting, drug delivery and anti-biofouling. Finally, inspirations from nature and daily life are extremely useful in studying these novel materials and applications, and thus the inspirations from things such as lotus leaf, sharpie dog, aging skin and human lung will also be shared with the audience.