I’m keeping cool with plants.

Stephen Fong, Ph.D.

Associate professor and vice chair, Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering

Ever notice how much hotter it is in a parking lot? All that man-made construction creates an urban heat island that’s as hot as it is unappealing. Plants can help offset some of that heat, so I worked with colleagues and students across the university to build low-maintenance green walls that help lower temperatures and beautify the city. My name is Stephen Fong, and taking a stand against climate change by painting the town green is how I challenge the norm. VCU is where I make it real.


One of the requirements of teaching in the academic departments here at VCU is publishing research. The problem with that is that academic research doesn’t tend to get much “airtime.” The ramifications of it rarely become things that ordinary people can see. Green walls change that. Sure, they’re the product of lots of scholarly research and experimental trials, but they’re also versions of the research in action.

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$271 million in funded research in 2016

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I love that teaching at VCU gives me the ability to collaborate with colleagues from other disciplines. It exposes students to a variety of different ways to solve problems. Interdisciplinary efforts require some encouragement, but it’s very rewarding helping people find common ground so that they can work together. It’s all a part of VCU’s mission to continue building up the city that built us.

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2,274 full-time faculty members

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