Interviews with Two WCU Professors
Interviews with Two WCU Professors
  • Cho Sung-won, Kim Eun-ji
  • 승인 2009.11.18 20:48
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After the World Class University (WCU) Program was established at POSTECH, many new professors came here from overseas. We are going to meet two foreign professors and talk to them about their research areas, their life in POSTECH, and their impression of Postechians.

Meeting New Overseas Postechians With Enthusiasm
Prof. Stefan Kettemann

▲ Prof. Stefan Kettemann
I met Prof. Stefan Kettemann from Germany in the APCTP main lobby. He is currently working as an associate professor of the Emergent Materials Research Group in the Division of Advanced Materials Science, POSTECH.
We talked about his research area and environment, his daily life in Pohang, and himself.

What are you working with in WCU?
POSTECH has three divisions in the program, which are the Integrative Bioscience & Biotechnology, the Division of IT Convergence Engineering and the Division of Advanced Materials Science. I belong to the Division of Advanced Materials Science and conduct research to find new advanced materials. Especially, I am interested in spintronics, solar cells, and thermoelectrics. I came here with one postdoctoral and one doctoral student to more efficiently continue what I have researched.

What did you do before you came to POSTECH?
I was teaching three classes per semester at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. Basically, I will stay at POSTECH for the Fall semester and go back to Germany to teach for the Spring semester. What I focus on at each university is research in POSTECH and lectures in Germany.

Did you know about POSTECH before receiving your job offer?
I formed a relationship with POSTECH when I participated in a workshop provided by APCTP a year ago. Since the professors working in chemistry and electronics at Jacobs University have interacted with those in POSTECH through this channel, POSTECH is well known among the professors. However, it’s not yet the case for students.

When you first came to Pohang, what is your first impression about it?
First, I was impressed by the various restaurants. As I like raw fish and sea food so much, I usually go out to eat dinner with my colleagues. Also, I’ll talk about people in Pohang. Though they can’t speak English well, they are very kind to answer my questions and willing to communicate through other tools such as body language and using a cellular phone. Finally, as a bad point, I was so shocked when a taxi driver didn’t seem to stop while I was crossing the crosswalk.

What do you do on weekends?
Since I enjoy riding a bicycle, I often ride my bicycle along the roads in the countryside on weekends. Also, I like jogging through the forest on campus and often play tennis.
You probably have had the chance to meet and talk with Postech students. What do you think of Postechians?
I am teaching graduate students in this semester. They are very hardworking and polite but they don’t speak much in class. They seem to hesitate to speak in English. The communication between professor and students is so important that I want to make an atmosphere where students can feel free to speak their opinions.

What is your aspiration when you were a university student?
As university student, I wanted to understand physics. Then, my interest was sparked in new high temperature superconductivity materials. Actually, my professor told that it’s impossible to observe high temperature superconductivity phenomena but an unprecedented thing happened the very next year. So I realized that there was a high possibility of finding the new phenomenon at I needed to prepare to understand an interesting discovery at any time.

Any last comment?
Although it’s hard to study, try to find what you are interested in and never give up. If you like something, nothing is too difficult. Ask yourself what you want and like and invest all your effort in it and try to improve it.

Reporter Cho Sung-won


What I expect from Korean Students
Prof. Jonathan Sprent

▲ Prof. Jonathan Sprent
Jonathan Sprent, an adjunct professor of the Division of Integrative Biosciences and Biotechnology (IBB), spoke to the Postech Times about his coming to POSTECH. He is one of the distinguished professors from overseas who came to POSTECH supported by the nation’s World Class University (WCU) program. Here are edited excerpts from the interview.

What is your research area?
I work on various aspects of T cells, where they are produced, how they are produced, how long they live for and how they are activated. This is the general overview of what I do.

How did you become a part of the WCU program?
I was approached by the WCU program to participate. The idea is that the Korean government wants to increase the profile of Korean science so they want to basically try to recruit some people from overseas and improve the overall quality of science.
I am very happy to be a part of the WCU program. The program has been very generous in terms of giving us lab space,  providing us with quite a lot money to buy equipment and to make it possible to do high-quality research. So I am optimistic.

What do you expect from this program?
In a way, I am here to recruit Korean graduates and post-docs. In my point of view, this allows to build a scientific bridge by building a satellite lab between Australia and POSTECH. I hope there are opportunities where some of the students here can work in my lab in Sydney. Conversely, some of the people in Australia might come over here.

How did you come to POSTECH?
It wasn’t that I chose POSTECH, it was more that POSTECH chose me. I had interactions with POSTECH in the past and I’ve been coming to Korea on and off for the last 20 years.

What impression did you have of Korean students?
I thought that Korean students are taught pretty well. But as you know, English is the language of science and being able to communicate in English is very important. It is my impression that Korean students can read English very well but they have problems in speaking it. But I think this is something that will improve with time.

Any last words?
What I would like to see from Korean students is that if you want to be an effective scientist, you have to do science for its own sake. Your goal has to be to become a good scientist, not to cure diseases or become a professor. The best way to do that is probably to go overseas, work in successful laboratories, publish some papers and then come back to Korea. Many excellent Korean Post-docs go to the U.S or Europe and they don’t go back again. In order for them to come back, they need to come to an environment that values them for their capacity to do science rather than to become a bureaucrat. They also need to be financially well-supported so that they can do effective science. And students need to continuously interact with scientists from other countries and go to conferences. This has worked very well in Japan and Japan has been very successful in the field of science. Since there are certain parallels between Korea and Japan, I see no reason as to why Korea cannot do it.
I believe that this is the reason why the WCU program was developed in the first place; to encourage people from overseas to develop a culture where curiosity-driven research is going to become more prominent.

Reporter Kim Eun-ji

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