[Interview: Recipient of an honorary doctorate degree] Advice from a World Class Researcher
[Interview: Recipient of an honorary doctorate degree] Advice from a World Class Researcher
  • Reporter Jung Han-kyu
  • 승인 2011.03.02 20:46
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Urged graduates to address 4 big problems of mankind

In addition to the 700 graduates who received degrees at the 2010 Commencement Ceremony, a special guest was invited to receive an honorary doctorate degree. Dr. Peter S. Kim, the current president of Merck Research Laboratories, was invited to accept the honor.

▲ Dr. Peter S. Kim

The POSTECH Times had an exclusive interview with Dr. Kim to learn more about his life and career as a researcher. To introduce his brief profile, his alma maters are Cornell University (B.S.) and Stanford University (Ph.D). He then went on to the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for post doctoral research. He remained there for 17 years as both a researcher and a professor. He gained the academic spotlight through his findings in HIV/AIDS research. His research group discovered how proteins cause cell membranes to fuse. Based on this finding, he designed compounds that discourage membrane fusion by HIV, thereby preventing it from infecting cells.

As a seasoned researcher, he gave time-proven advice to graduates who are moving onto various fields to apply their knowledge. Dr. Kim warned the graduates that numerous obstacles will frustrate them. When faced with challenges, he emphasized that it is important to be able “to persevere, and to step back and think about the problem from different angles, or think outside the box.” He also pointed out that “sometimes it is important to maybe take a break. Try another project or another direction.”

He also gave his opinion on how to become a global leader, which is the ultimate educational goal POSTECH has for its students. Skilled leaders must be able to “simultaneously focus on big pictures and recognize the things that need to be attended to in detail.” An example he gave for this role was noticing capabilities of various team members and delegating tasks to apt people.

Finally, he passed on a noble mission that he highlighted in his speech at the commencement ceremony. He urged the graduates to address the following four big problems of humankind: producing food to feed the growing population, creating sustainable energy, taking care of the environment, and improving human health. Despite his prestigious accomplishments, he is still determined to continue on with improving human health, one of the four problems he highlighted to be addressed.