Episode 85: Innovation at the Edge

David Sun Kong is Director of MIT Media Lab’s Community Biotechnology Initiative; Founder and Board President of EMW Community Space, an art, technology, and community space in Cambridge, MA; a DJ and photographer.

He says there’s a disconnect between the life sciences sector and general public. His work at the intersection of art, science, design, and engineering seeks to “disrupt” our notions of science and the broader human experience of it.

He discusses his work introducing the human microbiome to the public through music and shares how community biology labs around the world are creating an infrastructure to support residents who are excited about science to learn about biotechnology, life sciences, and engage in wonderful hands-on experiences.

David Sun KongDavid Sun Kong is a Synthetic Biologist, community organizer, musician, and photographer based in Lexington, MA. He is the Director of the MIT Media Lab’s new Community Biotechnology Initiative. Our mission: empowering communities through biotechnology.

David is a pioneer in developing “lab-on-a-chip” technologies for synthetic biology and a leader in the global community biology movement. He conducted his graduate studies at MIT’s Media Lab, receiving a Master’s degree for developing technology for printing nanostructures with energetic beams and a Ph.D. for demonstrating the first gene synthesis in a microfluidic (“lab-on-a-chip”) system. He was recognized as an emerging leader in synthetic biology as a “LEAP” fellow, served as a guest faculty member at the Marine Biology Lab in Woods Hole, MA, and is co-founder and managing faculty of “How To Grow (Almost) Anything, an international course on synthetic biology. He founded and chaired new Microfluidic and Hardware Tracks for the International Genetically Engineered Machines Competition (iGEM) and is the official iGEM DJ. He was Technical Staff in the Bioengineering Systems & Technologies group at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and a founding member of the synthetic biology team. He is also the founder of Metafluidics, an open repository for fluidic systems.

He has also worked as a community organizer for more than a decade and is the founder and director of EMW, an art, technology, and community space in Cambridge, MA. EMW’s mission is to empower communities through the transformative power of artistic expression. We emphasize serving marginalized communities and develop all of our programming with values rooted in social justice. Our community programs explore expressive forms ranging from poetry to electronic music, beatboxing to bio-hacking and more.

David has performed as a DJ, beat-boxer, vocalist, and rapper at hundreds of venues, including South by Southwest, the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and Brooklyn Bowl, where he opened for Tonight Show band-leader and hip hop legend Questlove. He is also an award-winning vocal arranger and producer. His photography has been exhibited at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian, the Japanese American National Museum, and other museums and galleries across the country.

Listen to BiotaBeats iGEM UNI-VERSE 2017:

Can Hip Hop Save Biotech?

Watch: Your scalp is the drums, your hand is the bass: making music from the body’s bacteria

Read Episode Transcript.

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