Student Profile

Yoonji K.
Yoonji K. ’16
Suwon, South Korea

Recipient of Amy and Leon Kass Odyssey Scholarship

What did you do this past summer?
This past summer I was a Biological Sciences Collegiate Division (BSCD) Summer Fellow and received a stipend to conduct research in Dr. Stephen Kron’s lab in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology Department for ten weeks over the summer. I investigated the global proteomic and phophoproteomic changes in the yeast to hyphal transition in Candida albicans by identifying novel biomarkers and finding potential drug targets for candidiasis and attended weekly seminars. At the end of the program, I presented on my research findings and received the “Best Presentation Award,” which was evaluated by the other BSCD fellows and the program directors. I also attended and presented at the Chicago Biomedical Consortium Proteomics and Informatics Workshop, where I was the only undergraduate student among other graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. In addition to the BSCD fellowship program, my summer was a memorable one because my brother came to visit for a couple weeks.

Please comment on the pursuit of your major and minor, as well as any other academic interests.
I am a biological sciences major, perhaps interested in specializing in endocrinology. I hope to be able to attend medical school and become a doctor in the future.

Please tell us about a significant or memorable experience you have had during your time at UChicago.
A highlight of my academic career so far has been conducting research. This activity has amplified my passion for experiencing scientific inquiry on a daily basis, and it continues to help me establish independence and leadership as I develop skills in problem solving and the presentation of ideas. Currently, I conduct biomedical research via Global Proteomic Analysis, Mass Spectrometry Data Analysis, Systems Biology, and other lab techniques. I am in the process of writing a paper that I hope to publish sometime in June 2015.

What activities do you participate in outside of the classroom? Are there any that are new from last year?
I am a student journalist/filmmaker for LabTV, which is sponsored by Google and the National Institutes of Health. I am currently hired to interview university researchers, film researchers in their labs, and edit the footage to produce short video profiles of scientists that attract students, especially women and minorities, to biomedical research. Being a part of LabTV has been an incredible experience as I am mentored by David Hoffman, an Emmy award nominated filmmaker and LabTV executive producer. In the past year, I have been awarded with the LabTV Gold Medal Video Profile on Jason Torres at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York as well as the LabTV Semi-Finalist Video Profile on Yu Cheng. Also, I am a Senior Health Educator for Peer Health Exchange, which is a student organization on campus which teaches 9th graders a comprehensive health curriculum in Chicago public schools. Peer Health Exchange exists to give teens the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions, covering topics such as decision-making and communication, alcohol and drugs use, healthy relationships, mental health, and pregnancy prevention. I also assist and train new health educators to teach workshop materials and to be comfortable teaching in a classroom setting. I am a small group bible study leader of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, in which I lead bible study every week and build up a community within the dorms on campus. I also plan and host weekly events for students to enjoy fellowship as well as mentor underclassmen. Volunteering in the Emergency Room at the UChicago Hospital is always an eye-opening time. I visit and provide the ER patients with extra attention and care. In addition, I assist the ER staff in preparing patient rooms, stocking supplies, and welcoming the patients and families.

As a scholarship recipient, to what extent are you grateful for the support you received? What are your thoughts on how you might one day give back to the University of Chicago?
For the past three years at the University of Chicago I began to see my college experience not as one that lasts only four years, but as a period that marks the beginning of a life teeming with a desire for more learning and pursuit of my passions and interests. Thank you so much for this generous scholarship. It is hard for me to imagine myself at a different university and am blessed to be here.

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