Dr. Stephen Fong runs the systems biological engineering laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he is a well-loved educator, colleague and associate department chair of Chemical and Life Science Engineering. His passion for his young children has given him a uniquely “playful” perspective in the lab, driving his efforts to revolutionize the way that we teach the sciences. In the often regimented environment of a lab, Stephen seeks to offer students the tools and biological building blocks to tinker rather than simply stick to the book. His approach also provides his students with the rare opportunity to do undergraduate research alongside graduate-level tinkerers.
The main issue Stephen says he faces is that we are no longer limited by what can be accomplished in the lab, but only by the creative ideas that are brought into the lab. His focus on teaching technical proficiency through technical creativity has inspired his students to concoct ideas like genetically modifying yeast to brew glow-in-the-dark beer and crafting light sensing bacteria to make bacterial photographs.
See Stephen’s TEDxRVA 2013 talk here!