Being considered the top expert in a professional field is the best honor some can receive. Choi Jin-hee, a professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Seoul, has won a lot of authoritative prizes as a specialist in her field. She was selected as “one of the most influential scientists in the world” by Thomson Reuters, a worldwide academic, financial, and business information institute. Additionally, Choi received the “2016 Female Science Technology Engineer Prize” from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the Center for Women In Science, Engineering and Technology. Who is Choi Jin-hee? How has she researched? The UOS Times sought to provide answers to these questions.
Choi’s Choice: Cross-Disciplinary Research
Because chemical substances can sometimes cause a number of accidents and diseases, people feel anxiety about new and unknown chemicals. Under these circumstances, Choi thought it was necessary to make the environment safer from these chemical substances. She has elaborately anticipated and evaluated the positive and negative influences of chemicals on the human body or ecosystems.
In 2016, her research earned her the honorable prizes mentioned above. When asked how she won them, she answered that cross-disciplinary research made her the best scientist in her field. Choi focused on a wide variety of subjects in her research, such as environmental engineering, life sciences, life information, and nano-science. She said, “More and more complex problems about the environment are occurring as society diversifies. It is impossible to understand these problems and suggest solutions without cross-disciplinary research. I think combining several studies is the best approach to research and solve environmental problems, and I think I am pioneering new knowledge in the field with research across different fields. I think my way of research that combines various subjects is being recognized by other people.”
Moreover, Choi researched the environment with her students. She said the curiosity of her students was a stimulant. She is interested in the processes of setting a hypothesis and conducting an experiment. Choi is proud that she and her students are conducting studies that are helping to solve environmental problems, and this motivates them to continue to conduct environmental research. She also anticipated that she would receive international recognition because she conducted research that was partially based on novel ideas from her students.
The Current and Future States of Environmental Research
Among the number of different fields about the environment, Choi chose OMICS(bioinformtics) as her focus. OMICS is a dielectric technology. It is actively used to search for the causes of diseases, diagnosis diseases, and develop technology that makes new medicine. She is diagnosing and researching the environment and anticipating future environmental problems through OMICS technology. This is also an example of cross-disciplinary studies, the method Choi emphasized above, between biotechnology and the environment. She is interested in studying this because it can help monitor and understand complex environmental phenomena and solve them.
Choi is positive about the future of environmental studies. She said, “Nowadays, regulation of the environment is being strengthened as innovative technological development is needed in various fields. In the future, technologies cannot be used if their safety is not guaranteed, regardless of how innovative or developed they are.
However, we must consider environmental safety from the beginning of the development of new technologies. That is, we must prepare safe products and processes, while considering the environmental safety of technology from the beginning of our studies. Therefore, the future of studies about the environment is promising.”
In this bright future, she commented that she wants to do research that will solve the environmental problems we are facing and investigate the environmental confusion caused by human activities in the future. In order to do this, she has started studying the microevolutionary mechanisms that are caused by environmental pollution.
Advice from Choi
Choi advised UOS students to find their identities and be ambitious to become the best in their field. She said, “I think contemplating who you are is the most important assignment you will have while in university. Search for what you like, what you are good at, and things that make you happy. Please specify your dreams and take many classes in various fields, and find your favorite areas. Then, achieve your dreams through various activities, such as participating in an internship or directing a project. Do what you really like without worries and regrets!”
Being the best in an area is difficult. However, someday we can all be the best in our fields if we find what we really like and bury ourselves in it. This is the common principle for anyone who wants to accomplish the dream of being the best, no matter what it is.