[Vol.20] A Turning Point in My Life (Arie Kim, UST-IBS Campus, Basic Science Major / Integrative Course)
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- Registration Date : 2016-12-28
From her college days, she used to read science books on the subject of "brain" and grew her curiosity about brain science. She dreamt of being a neurosurgeon. But to become a medical doctor, her desire to "explore" the infinite potential of human brain was too overwhelming. Now she is growing up as a scientist at the UST-IBS campus. What was the turning point that changed her life?
Q. You have been studying at Center for Cognition and Sociality in the IBS campus, since before entering UST.
I have been working as a research assistant for Professor Hee-sup Shin's research project team for about two years. I participated in a research on empathic ability among many fields of brain science at the time, and I wanted to continue the project even after the contract period ended, so I entered the school this September.
At the time, I discovered that the ability of empathy was genetically influenced, which was published as a paper, and now I am experimenting with what kind of gene cells in the mouse brain specifically stimulate empathy, especially fear empathy.
Q. You finished your undergraduate course at Stanford University. We wonder why you decided to come back to Korea, and particularly come to UST.
I majored in neurobiology in my undergraduate course. I became interested in brain science as I read cultural books related to brain science such as Phantoms in the Brain by Dr. Ramachadran and Hippocampus by Dr. Ikegaya Yuji of Tokyo University. I was actually planning to apply for medical school to be a neurosurgeon in my undergraduate days. In the meantime, I got more interested in brain diseases such as autism and acupuncture spectrum disorder (ASD) and started looking for opportunities to participate in related research. I found out that Professor Hee-sup Shin was prominent in the field of brain science and contacted him. The typical symptom of ASD is the lack of sociality and empathy, and this complex brain function is hard to study. But I thought that it was worth the challenge, so I joined the professor's team.
I learned a lot when I worked as a research assistant for the Professor Shin, and above all, the experience was a decisive opportunity to turn my career plan from being a medical doctor to a researcher. Hence, it was a relatively easy decision to choose UST as my graduate course to continue the research.
Q. The research with Professor Hee-sup Shin who is "The first National Honor Scientist" would be a special opportunity and experience for you.
National Honor Scientist title is awarded to Korean scientists who make the world's most excellent research results. It is our greatest strength that we are able to do a wide range of research with the group of researchers with doctoral degree who have versatile capabilities that are not limited to one field. This study, which spans brain science and genetics at the same time, is possible because of the career of Prof. Shin who was a geneticist.
Also, I usually discuss my research direction with him. I recognize that quality is more important than the quantity of discussion. Enough thinking and contemplating by myself and having ideas and conclusions assured to a certain degree before having discussion with him is much more efficient and helpful to me to grow up as a researcher than just running to him whenever a curiosity arises.
Q. What is your strength as a researcher?
As a student who is still studying, I think it is the most important point that I have flexible future and various possibilities. Like the professor and the doctors, I want to become a competent researcher who can engage in projects converging with other fields as well as deeply focus on one field.
Q. Please tell us your future research plans and aspirations.
Right now, I want to make a successful research result as I did in my previous research. In particular, the communication between and the corresponding functions of neocortex that is the most advanced part of the human brain and plays an important role in performing human intellectual ability, and the limbic system that is involved in the control of emotions such as anger, fear, and pleasure is the part that I want to delve into.
Q. Finally, any advice for UST On readers?
I think there are a lot of other students who chose UST because of its innovative system rather than its brand value, like I did. Along with the relationship with Prof. Shin, the time I have spent at UST became a turning point in my life. We hope that you will make the most of the UST system, which has a remarkable competitive edge compared to other educational institutions. I also hope that these advantages will be widely promoted and that more talents will come to UST.