Sean Cheng: Booming biotechnology

To support students in biotechnology and give back to the mentor who had helped guide his academic career, Xiaoliang “Sean” Cheng, PhD Chem’10, recently founded a scholarship for chemistry or biology students who partner with faculty on research conducted in the Center for Single Nanoparticle, Single Cell and Single Molecule Monitoring at S&T.

Photo by Genevieve Shiffrar

Photo by Genevieve Shiffrar

Cheng says he wanted to help support students who conduct research at the center, which was established by Yinfa Ma, Curators’ Teaching Professor of chemistry and associate dean of research for the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business. Ma was Cheng’s research advisor at S&T.

“Since switching from being a student to a technology company founder, I have learned that technology begins with the innovative ideas that come from learning,” says Cheng. “That’s the reason why I wanted to set up the scholarship, to encourage and inspire students to think wildly and create new things.”

A self-described serial entrepreneur, Cheng started thinking of ideas for new companies before he had even graduated from Missouri S&T. So far, he has helped found CZ Technologies, Neo-Leaf Technology, Clingnenomix and Wuhan Quality Life Technology, and partnered at a private angel investor venture that provides capital to early- and growth-stage life science companies.

“Having previous experience in building and developing companies really helps when looking to found a new one,” says Cheng, who also serves as an adjunct professor of chemistry at Missouri S&T. “Unique ideas always seem to spark starting a company, and I have been lucky to always find the right team to help grow an idea into a reality.”

Cheng’s latest venture is QL Tech, a microbial bioreactor engineering and discovery technologies company he co-founded in 2013. He serves as CEO of the company. Its headquarters are in Wuhan, China, but it has a division in the Silicon Valley, where Cheng and his wife, Lin Zhu, MS IST’09, live.

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