Two Weldon School alumni successfully transition to assistant professors

In the majority of cases, once Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering students finish their post-doctorate experience or complete their studies to earn their degree, their time in academia has completed as they move on to work in the business or industry sector.

But for two individuals from Prof. Chi Hwan Lee’s Research Group, their professional time in academia has just begun, despite the highly competitive job market.

Dr. Hyungjun Kim

This spring, Dr. Hyungjun Kim accepted the role of assistant professor in the Department of Applied Chemistry at Kumoh National Institute of Technology in South Korea, where he will teach, as well as conduct research focused on developing gene delivery systems to treat various diseases. Dr. Kim was a postdoc at the Weldon School from Spring 2016. While at Purdue, he developed a very unique bioresorbable drug delivery patch that could be beneficial to tumor regression and relapse prevention on a melanoma model, which created multidisciplinary clinical collaborations with Prof. Yeo Yoon’s group in the School of Pharmacy and the Weldon School at Purdue. He was first recruited to join Professor Lee’s lab due to his impressive research on the development of drug delivery platforms that incorporate precisely-controlled bioresorbable materials in their geometrical morphologies and compound compositions while a student at School of Life Science at Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) in South Korea and his first postdoc training in the Department of Biological Sciences at Korea Advanced Institute of Sciences and Technology (KAIST) in South Korea.

This fall, Dr. Min Ku Kim will begin his new role as assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Hanyang University in South Korea. He will be responsible for teaching undergraduate and graduate students and conducting research in wearable devices. Dr. Kim came to Purdue as a graduate student in 2015 and earned his Ph.D. in May 2021. While part of Prof. Lee’s lab, he focused on multidisciplinary research which combined device physics and solid mechanics to biomedical applications such as a bandage-like sensor patch for tele-rehabilitation of swallowing disorders, a smart electronic glove for prosthetic hand controls, an electronic scaffold system for 3D real-time monitoring of cellular functions, and a soft hydrogel manipulator for the transportation of thin biological sheets.

Dr. Min Ku Kim

Prof. Lee is not at all surprised by the successes of his former students. “Dr. Hyungjun Kim is a self-motivated, creative and smart researchers who is able to blend a unique mix of science and technology into his work in a highly efficient manner,” said Lee. “I have known Dr. Min Ku Kim since he was an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he and I worked as a postdoc mentor and undergraduate researchers. He has a strong passion for research and is very talented in experimental and translational science.”

Both graduates attribute their current success to their time at Purdue. “Professor Lee generously supported all kinds of research, encouraged me to continue when I was in a slump and gave me the motivation to reach my final goal,” said Dr. Hyungjun Kim.

“While at Purdue, I was able to work on multidisciplinary research involving mechanical design, material science, electronics and clinical testing which exposed me to be proficient in many engineering fields and gave me the confidence to pursue multidisciplinary research,” said Dr. Min Ku Kim. “During the process, Prof. Lee was very supportive with his guidance and served as a role model as he prepared me for my professional career as a principal investigator.”

Another recent success to emerge from the Lee Research Group is Dr. Bongjoong Kim, who received a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue in May 2021. He has been appointed to assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Hongik University in South Korea. While at Purdue, Dr. Bongjoong Kim received several awards, including the College of Engineering Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award for mechanical engineering, alongside Dr. Min Ku Kim who received the same award for biomedical engineering.