Realizing Dreams at UST’s First Overseas Campus (Da Eun Lee, KIST Europe Campus)
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- Registration Date : 2015-07-28
It is a well-known fact that the name KIST(Korea Institute of Science and Technology) now draws a significant impact in the international community of science and technology. Another significant fact that is not really known to everyone is that KIST opened its first campus in Europe. KIST Europe admitted its first group of students in the late 2014, and Da Eun Lee was a member of that extraordinary league. In this interview, Lee shared her experience of being one of the first students in KIST Europe.
My name is Da Eun Lee. I am a master’s degree candidate majoring energy and environmental convergence engineering at KIST Europe in Saarbrucken, Germany. It is such a pleasure to do this interview. I graduated from the High Polymer Engineering Department at Inha University. After graduation, I d to Germany to join an internship program. I have been here for the last two years. I was admitted to UST during fall of 2014, and I am currently a member of the Environmental Safety Group of KIST, Europe.
You are one of the first students of overseas UST campus. Can you tell us about the KIST Europe Campus?
KIST Europe is the only overseas branch founded by a Korean research institute. It is located in Saarland University Campus. KIST Europe shares the campus vicinity with prominent German research institutes such as Helmholtz, Braunhoffer, Max Planck, and Liebniz Institute for New Materials.
More than half of the Institute’s staff members are non-Koreans. It functions as the focal point in Europe by carrying out scientific and technological exchange as well as joint research projects with research institutes in Europe. The Environmental Safety Group, where I belong, provides assistance for South Korean companies exporting chemical materials to Europe in coping with various control systems for chemical materials and environmental regulations in Europe, and carries out a variety of research projects in the area.
The campus hosts many renowned research institutes. Does KIST Europe carry out any joint research projects with them?
Of course, it does. Most of the research areas covered in KIST Europe involves joint projects with other research institutes. In addition, we have seen the strengthening of partnerships in relation to the academic courses. Recently, UST introduced the joint degree courses in collaboration with Sarland University that means you can earn a German degree by studying here. It is another valuable reason to consider in applying for UST Europe!
Please tell us about your research area.
As you may know, Europe imposes strict regulation on hazardous chemicals. Our research at KIST Europe is focused on environmental solutions vis-a-vis European regulation on chemicals. To be specific, the research is concerned with the assessment of the effect of hazardous chemicals on human body and the environment using alternative test methods as well as with the development of new classification for mixed materials and calculation programs.
I am currently working on the regulation part of the research in the Environmental Safety Group, carrying out researches on how to support South Korean exporters. The main concern of my work here consists of verifying the information and characteristics of various chemicals to see any of them falls under the scope of regulations and provide the exporters with solutions to deal with those regulations. In this sense, my research is immediately followed by actual measures. Going through these experiences and identifying the actual needs of the companies, I was able to set the theme for my own research project.
Can you be more specific?
My research is focused on “regulation on food contact materials.” It focuses on the hazardous effects of substances contained in certain food products. I am proud to make a significant and meaningful contribution for Korean chemical exporters through my research with immediate applications.
Has your research theme changed since you first came to UST?
Not exactly. “Narrowed it down” is the expression I would use. After ing my undergraduate course, I came to Germany to join an internship program of a South Korean company in Frankfurt. In the program, I was tasked to write documents and collect news about environmental regulations. It allowed me to familiarize myself with the trends of chemical companies in Europe as well as the global trend.
However, I soon realized that the internship work could not provide me with the level of understanding that I want. I started to consider continuing my study in the environmental area because I wanted to understand what elements of chemical substances had influenced the regulations in Europe. Then, I had an opportunity to join a seminar on environmental regulation hosted by KIST Europe. After talking to Dr. Sang Heon Kim at the seminar, I decided to apply for a UST degree course. The practical atmosphere of the UST’s system was very appealing to me, not to mention the training grants.
You are one of the first students of the first South Korean research institute in Europe. Did you experience any difficulty with getting along with others?
I decided to take the initiative to approach them first. European countries have well-established sports facilities, where you can enjoy sports anywhere, anytime as long as you find someone to join with you. Therefore, I began to gather members for a badminton club in KIST, Europe, starting last January. The membership grew from 5 to 25! We replenish our body and mind playing badminton once a week. In that way, I could build friendship with KSTI members, otherwise, I would not have a chance to meet them. The club has also a fair number of non-Korean members.
Don’t you feel lonely living in Europe?
Because I was the first and only student to be admitted to the Institute as UST student, I had no other peer who joined UST in the same year as I did with whom I could take classes together or discuss the research issues. I wished the situation was different. However, I still contacted my friends I met during the orientation through SMS services and messengers to talk about the life at UST.
Would you like to share your resolution for the future?
First, I would like to say that I wanted to let other people know about the benefits of studying at UST. There are no places on this Earth that you can carry out your researches and see them immediately being applied to the field.
I take the pride with my efforts on research with immediate application to the field. Most European companies have established policies concerning environmental regulations futuristically, which provide them the system to withstand the ever-increasing regulations. On the other hand, South Korean companies have a hard time in building those systems because they are not totally prepared in terms of controlling chemical substances. I hope to continue my effort in doing my research and make a difference.