Silver Circles: Leslie Wo-Mei Fung

Since 1966, the Silver Circle Award has been presented to some of UIC’s best teachers. Winners, who are honored at their college commencements, receive $500 and their names join a long list of distinguished colleagues. But what makes the award especially meaningful is its selection committee: the graduating seniors.

Silver Circles: 1
Years at UIC: 4

Leslie Wo-Mei Fung; Silver Circle Award Winner

Leslie Wo-Mei Fung, professor of chemistry. Photo: Jenny Fontaine

What does it mean to win this award from the graduating seniors?

Humbling and energized. It is a recognition and confirmation of my teaching approach.

What do you teach?

General Chemistry (CHEM 124); Biochemistry I (BIOS/CHEM 452); Biochemistry Lab (CHEM 455); Independent Studies (CHEM 492); Supervised Research (CHEM 499); Ph.D. Research (CHEM 599).                          

How do you engage students in your courses?

I believe that the research activities in my lab are an important component in my teaching, both classroom and research teaching. Research provides me excitement about the subject. Students learn the most when they are excited about the subject. I emphasize concepts and ask the students not to memorize what is in the textbook, lecture notes, research papers, etc., but to understand them so that they can use them with ease. I also promote active teaching/learning.

What are your research interests?

We have two broad research topics in our lab. One is on a brain protein called spectrin. We study its structure and function, including spectrin tetramerization and spectrin as a substrate for the enzyme caspase-3. The aim is to understand certain neuronal functions on a molecular level.  The other area is on antibiotic development. We have identified a class of compounds that appears to stop bacterial growth quite efficiently. Now, we want to know the mode of action for these compounds. We also study bacterial enzymes essential to bacterial growth. Inhibitors for these enzymes are molecules with the potential to become antibiotics.

What is your advice to graduating students?

Do not just repeat what others say, but understand it so that you say it in your own way.

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