David Kong's Headshot

David Kong

Director of MIT Media Lab’s Community Biotechnology Initiative, Musician, Community Organizer - Panelist Blurb

David Kong, Ph.D., 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 whose mission is to empower communities through biotechnology.

Kong 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.

Kong has also worked as a community organizer for more than a decade and is the founder 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 serving marginalized communities and developing programming with values rooted in social justice. The community programs explore expressive forms ranging from poetry to electronic music, beatboxing to bio-hacking and more.

Kong 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, producer and photographer. Kong's 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.