“If I can make the world better a little bit with my research”

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USTian Talk

“If I can make the world better a little bit with my research”

Student Jeong Hyeong-young (Doctorate course, UST- Korea Polar Research Institute, KOPRI) Campus, majoring in polar science)

The way to the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) to meet student Jeong Hyeon-young, who takes a doctorate course at UST-KOPRI campus was filled with more pleasure than ever. In the Interview with Professor, 2019 September Issue, I interviewed professor Kim Ki-tae at UST-KOPRI campus. At that time, professor Kim said that he was conducting research on ‘the development of pollutant removal technology using ice chemistry’. Now, after many years from that interview, the research led to good results. The technology was selected as the ‘top 100 national R&D outcomes in 2020’ by the Ministry of Science and ICT and it was published in [Environmental Science & Technology (ACS)], a world-renowned academic journal in the field of environment. In addition, it was selected as the cover paper in December last year. More than anything else, the participation of UST students made the research more meaningful.

The goal is to expand the unexplored research field of ‘ice chemistry’

Various studies on water, which is the medium for many chemical reaction in nature, were conducted in the past to the extent that there is a separate study field called ‘water chemistry’. It is a well-known fact that the higher the temperature, the faster the chemical reaction takes place. However, contrary to this common sense, there have been reports of chemical reactions that are accelerated in frozen state. KOPRI conducted an international joint research team together with Hallym University, California Institute of Technology and UC Irvine to conduct in-depth research on this. As a result, it was confirmed that when a liquid mixed with chromium and iodine substances was frozen, the toxicity of chromium, a carcinogen, was reduced and iodine was converted into a form that could be used in the industry. The research outcome is meaningful in that it opens the possibility of both treating industrial waste water and securing useful resources at the same time.

Under the guidance of professor Kim Ki-tae, student Jeong lead the experiment and wrote a paper. In the process of conducting experiment over and over again for years, he felt frustrations sometimes, but he could achieve a good result finally as he did not give up and tried continuously.

“There were so many difficult moment during the research. I doubted the way I am going when the research was not conducted as expected and research outcome was not well incorporated into paper. But I am very happy that the results of the research have achieved good outcome.”


Student Jeong conducts a study focusing on the elution of minerals and synthesis reactions that occur in the ice in addition to his research on removing pollutants using ice chemistry reaction. Last year, his research was selected for the project ‘Young Scientist 2020’ so he is conducting an independent research project.

“I want to go beyond the existing research and study the ice chemistry in relation to minerals in nature. My goal is to expand the unexplored research field of ice chemistry through this process.”

“Field focused research I dreamed of was possible at UST”

Student Jeong selected his undergraduate major with an interest in natural environment and during the master course, he was fascinated by polar science, with which many people were not familiar. So he was interested in KOPRI and looked for opportunities to research there. Then he found out about the UST internship program where he can work for internship at KOPRI.

“I did an internship for a month at KOPRI through UST internship program during the summer vacation after the last semester of my master’s course. I felt that ‘I could conduct research in the field here so I decided to take doctorate course at UST-KOPRI campus.”

Student Jeong started a new challenge through UST. New school, new environment, and a broader research field. It was not that easy to face new things but it was the time for shaping student Jeong Hyeon-young step by step. UST always provided opportunities to challenge to student Jeong and I take the opportunity to challenge as much as he wanted.

“If you ask me to pick the happiest moment while attending UST, it would be the moment when I took the first step in Antarctica. I finally arrived at Antarctica through Paris and Chile after a number of transfers. Even though I was very tired I was overwhelmed by the unfamiliar and beautiful scenery of Antarctica.”

Student Jeong has accumulated many overseas experiences that was difficult to have in parallel with degree programs. He participated the polar expert training program conducted by the Korea Maritime Institute to take polar science course at Lapland University in Finland which belongs to the Arctic Circle. He took the education on Danish Glacier through a program supported by KOPRI.

“In addition, I participated in and made a presentation on my research outcome at the conference held by the American Chemical Society (ACS) in the US, which was part of UST overseas training support program. I think all these processes have been a step toward becoming a polar scientist.”

Student Jeong wants to be a polar scientist. So he focuses on experience and challenges he can do at UST-KOPRI Campus. He knows that there is nothing that makes you grow as much as the time you spend experiencing and facing up to challenges. I am very happy because UST is here with his goal “I would be happy if I could make the world a little better and unravel the unknown world with my research.”