Scott Fulbright has spent the last 10 years in the algae bioproducts industry, leading research and developing projects with the goal of optimizing algae growth for biofuels.
A speaker at our previous Make + Believe event, Scott co-founded Living Ink in 2013, a company that develops sustainable ink technologies from algae. Living Ink has won several awards including the Department of Energy Cleantech Competition. Here we talk about our shared responsibility for sustainability and the importance of dancing with your kids.
What first drew you to sustainability issues locally and globally?
I used to go cycling with my dad as a kid and he would make a game out of throwing recycled glass, which made a lot of noise when breaking. Through that he educated me about sustainability. As a kid, it didn’t make sense that we were using materials we knew would run out, like metal. Early on I realized we had to recycle efficiently or come up with new materials that aren’t finite. Spending time with my family helped emphasized the concept of sustainability.
I also learned about ecology and how interconnected everything is. I realized that we might think of whales dying in the ocean because they eat plastic as something that doesn’t affect us in Colorado, but it does affect everywhere we live. It’s not about the argument of climate change. It’s about having breathable air and drinkable water.
Has there been a profound moment in your work where you have seen a visible impact? Please share.
We all love these “aha” moments, but what I’ve learned through doing science for a long time is that everything is a process. It’s a lot of incremental improvements to get to our goals. It takes a lot of patience. Throughout that whole process, I contributed to this huge industry of algae bio products. Maybe in the future I’ll have one moment.
What more can TEDxMileHigh individuals do to elevate the conversation around sustainability?
I think the biggest thing is to be curious and ask questions about what things are made of or where they come from. It’s pretty eye opening and scary. By being curious, we can uncover challenges we all face. People don’t realize how much their decisions and the dollars they spend affect policies in companies. There is a recent policy that went into effect to ban micro-bead face wash, and that was a people’s movement. There were so many people involved that there was a policy change. We can all get together and chose our priority. It’s important to not be short sighted and to put our energy towards these really critical questions.
What’s something few people know about you?
A lot of my friends would be surprised that I pick up my 3-year-old at 4pm every day and we turn on music and we dance and sing like crazy people. A lot of my peers wouldn’t imagine me doing that.
What’s the last thing that made you laugh uncontrollably?
My son, who I spend a lot of time with. We play basketball in our living room. He shoots the basketball and he wants it to miss so he can say, “Oh no.” But he makes all his shots. He just wants to miss it and he keeps making it! I’ve never known someone who wants to miss so badly.
When did you last make time for make-believe?
Every morning with my son we ride the “horse.” I pretend like we’re on the horse and we run around the house. I just hold him and he always wants to go faster.
Do you have a favorite TED talk?
I like “The Power of Vulnerability,” by Brene Brown and “How Bacteria Talk,” by Bonnie Bassler.