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Global Achievements Made with Excellent Students Need "Team Play + Fun Research"

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  • Registration Date : 2018-08-12
Global Achievements Made with Excellent Students Need

Reflections on Teaching

Global Achievements Made with Excellent Students
Need "Team Play + Fun Research"

Professor Gu Jong-min, Nano & Information Technology Major, UST-KIST Campus

“A small number of elites.” It’s not awkward to call Professor Gu Jong-min. Professor Gu, who is in the Nano & Information Technology Major of UST-KIST Campus, has turned out a total of four students since 2010. He has instructed three Master’s program students and one PhD program student.

He has turned out just four students in 8 years. However, the content reveals that the number is not important. Faisal Shahzad from Pakistan, who studied under professor Gu, completed a PhD program, returned to his home country, and was hired as a professor in the Metallurgical Engineering Department of Pierce University last year. The other two students are currently still studying.

Professor Gu Jong-min of UST-KIST Campus (head of the Material Structure Control Center), and student Amir Iqbal from Pakistan, who is studying in an Master/PhD Integrated Course

Cultivating a few excellent students ... two of four students have become professors

This is the result of high evaluation for academic outcomes and research results of students in the Master’s and PhD programs of UST-KIST Campus. We asked Professor Gu what the secret was. He gave a textbook answer. “It’s because the students studied hard. They really did.” So, we had to change the question to what he usually emphasized to UST students.

“It’s the same for all research and experiments, but team play is especially important, no less than individual capabilities. The competence of students is diverse. Some students are strong in theory and others are excellent at experiments. When I bring out the best in each student, team goals can be achieved. Nevertheless, good results finally come from the hard work of students.”

Along with such team play, Professor Gu emphasizes “fun” to students. This means students should conduct research with fun and should find fun in research. This is actually in line with his experience. He graduated from the Department of Industrial Chemistry in Hanyang University and completed his Master's and PhD programs in the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). He then studied as a post-doc researcher in the University of Minnesota, USA for two years. In the meantime, he discovered the fun of research, which he didn’t know at first. The reason why he moved from a large domestic company’s research institute to KIST in 2007 was that he wanted to devote himself to research “with fun.”

“If you are a student, you should study with more fun. To research with fun, you should search for research yourself, and not do research as assignments or tasks from somebody. If you discover any new phenomenon, you should not stop there, but expand the study to other fields and search for any other research. Only when you do it like that can you create a Blue Ocean, rather than a Red Ocean, in a research field.”

Professor Gu with researchers in the Polymer Composite Laboratory of KIST Campus.

UST students are behind globally prominent research achievements

Professor Gu, who leads the Material Structure Control Center of KIST, does not just emphasize fun to students. His own research is also based on such a philosophy. What he is currently focusing on is the development of an advanced material utilizing polymer composite. In 2016, he successfully developed a new concept EMI shielding materials that block electromagnetic interference (EMI). The transition metal carbide called “MXene” was used, making it low-priced and light.

Faisal Shahzad, who studied in a PhD program in KIST School, returned to Pakistan and became a professor, was the lead author of a research paper published in “Science,” a globally prestigious science journal, in September 2016, and his advisor Professor Gu was the corresponding author. Shahzad and Professor Gu received the UST President Award and Excellent Professor Award, respectively, in the 2017 commencement.

Along with this, Professor Gu drew attention because he developed a gel type solid electrolyte which could reduce the risk of battery explosion. Ionic liquid crystal gel electrolyte could fundamentally solve problems of existing liquid electrolytes such as evaporation, leakage, ignition, and explosion, and in particular he proved through experiments that a solid gel state had more excellent ion transfer than a liquid state. The corresponding paper was also published as front cover article of the world-renowned science journal “Advanced Materials” in 2016.

Professor Gu Jong-min of KIST Campus, who has turned out a few excellent graduates

“Students’ competitiveness is high … I hope the school size will increase”

Amir Iqbal from Pakistan is currently studying in an Master/PhD Integrated Course in Professor Gu’s lab. He is focusing on follow-up research on EMI shielding materials using the transition metal carbide (MXene). As MXene can be applied to various electronic materials as well as EMI shielding materials, more follow-up research is expected. Since his senior who graduated from UST advised by the same professor made great achievements, Iqbal is also absorbed in research with pride and confidence.

Lastly, Professor Gu said he wished UST would increase because excellent students enter as the years go by and the competitiveness of research results is high. This is because, as country of origin of students becomes diverse and the level of students gets high, more and more researchers who want to achieve great research outcomes demand UST students, and there is an increasing preference for UST students in research institutes.

“Of course it is not easy, but I hope the number of students and size of UST will increase. To that end, government-funded research institutions and researchers should take more interest in UST, and it’s important to derive more excellent research outcomes with UST students.”

Professor Go Jong-min and student Amir Iqbal. Since his senior who graduated from UST with advised by the same professor made great achievements, Iqbal is also absorbed in research with pride and confidence.