A Wish for a Painless World (Yeowool Huh, UST-KIST Campus)
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- Registration Date : 2015-10-06
A girl who hated her mother’s sickness dreamed about a world without pain. One day, she saw the term “Neuron” in her biology textbook for the first time. Using what she just learned, she then began to dream about inventing a treatment to get rid of all the pains in the world. Now, she is approaching the realization of the dream day by day.
What kind of research are you working on now?
Now, I am working on a behavioral experiment. It is about investigating what kind of connections the cerebral nerves have with behaviors. Among various subjects of behavioral science, I am interested in the pain mechanism on which I am conducting researches.
Have you always been interested in the field?
My mom was often in poor shape. I saw her suffering many times, and I began to wonder how I could get rid of the pain she was feeling, and that is how I came to gain interest in the field naturally. When I was in middle school, I learned the term “Neuron” for the first time. A neuron is a cell in the nervous system that carries nerve impulses such as excitement. It was so amazing for me to learn that each and every cell of the brain can recognize, think, and feel. It was also marvelous to know how the connection of the identical cells decides what a person feels, thinks, and speaks.
What are you g on in terms of your research?
There are many people experiencing pain. I started studying this field in the hope that I can help the people be free from such pain. However, when I say that I am studying about pains, many people think of only negative pains. However, pain is not always a bad thing. It is a key element in human survival. For example, if people cannot feel pain, they would be in a greater danger because they cannot react to danger immediately. Thus, the key point is to adjust the positive part and the negative part of pain adequately.
Did you have any specific reason for entering UST?
Being able to take my doctoral course while I conduct researches at the lab appealed to me greatly. In particular, UST has various kinds of special equipment and huge facilities to which I can hardly have access elsewhere. Also, because UST has small classes, I can use by myself the equipment that I would have to share with other students in other schools. I ed my undergraduate courses in the US, so when I compare UST with American schools, I believe it is well systemized in terms of equipment, facilities, and curriculum.
What kind of support did you receive?
I admire the various support programs UST has on its own, such as exchange programs with foreign schools or opportunities for training at foreign institutes. In particular, in my major, there is a great level of participation in my journal club. I like that, in the club, we can have opportunities to share free opinions, have discussions, and hold practices for presentations all by ourselves, aside from regular meetings. It is true that for my job, I cannot do my tasks well by myself as it is based on smooth communications with others. The club practically helps me gain more confidence when I have presentations outside of school.
What moment in your experience in university do you consider most rewarding?
Whenever I have presentations at foreign academic symposiums, I always have the UST logo shown on the screen. At first, I was unhappy that people are not well aware of the school. They seemed to know only KIST but not UST. Although I do not belong to it anymore as I graduated, I continue to be proud that I am from UST that I always put the logo on my presentation material. Now I feel that the school is getting more and more recognition. The audiences now recognize the logo well (laughs).
Recently, you have been selected for the Grass Fellowship Program. Please give us some information regarding this.
The program is a renowned fellowship in the field of neuroscience. It has produced 54 Nobel Prize winners to date since its foundation in 1951. The program makes connections between promising researchers and great scholars in neuroscience across the world and supports the operation of laboratories for them. In short, it is a program that gives opportunities to the super rookies of neuroscience.
Did you know that it is the first time for the program to select a Korean researcher?
I do actually. I could apply for Grass Fellowship thanks to UST. I have learned about the program in detail when I have been to Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in the US with supports from the school. MBL had a great appeal to me. I worked at MBL for three months. Everybody there was excellent. I recognized that I still had to learn a lot more, but at the same time, I could feel that Korea had excellent technological prowess. When I applied for the fellowship, I thought I had only a very slim chance to be selected, but I made it. Indeed, hactually attempting at first is important.
Do you have any comment for your fellows of UST?
I like the dictum, “Make the ideal high, but the reality solid.” To realize a dream immediately is the best; however, it sounds too hollow. Thus, day by day, step by step, I am building a firm reality to approach the ideal. My dream is to invent a treatment to control pain effectively. I wish I could advance with my excellent fellows of UST together toward our own ideals (laughs).