Avoid Boring People
Avoid Boring People
  • Sungjune Jung
  • 승인 2022.05.15 01:10
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Associate Professor Sungjune Jung (MSE)
Associate Professor Sungjune Jung (MSE)


I am a professor in the Department of Material Science and Engineering (MSE). It has been 10 years since I joined POSTECH in 2013.
Our research team recently developed an ultra-thin wearable sensor patch that monitors various cardiovascular health conditions. Applying inkjet printing technology, we were able to reduce the cost and time of developing sensors. In-depth research on inked electronic materials and an elaborately optimized printing process allowed us to develop thin-film-transistor arrays near commercialization levels. Current wearable pulse wave sensors only measure signals at a single point, making it difficult to accurately locate them right above the blood vessels. We presented for the first time how to measure and analyze pulse wave signals spatially through 10×10 pixelated sensors, overcoming the difficulties of prior sensors.
Printing technology is contributing greatly to human society as the core technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I majored in Electronic and Electrical Engineering in college and studied nonlinear optics for my master’s degree. Then I joined Samsung Electronics and was in charge of developing a print head for an inkjet printer. From then until now, domestic companies have failed to develop print head technologies for inkjet printers and are importing print heads from HP and attaching them to the domestic inkjet printers. After three and a half years at Samsung Electronics, I resigned from the company and went to Cambridge University, where I achieved my Ph.D. degree, to overcome these technical limitations.
Printing technology is a very attractive field of research in that it has a wide range of applications depending on the material used, allowing me to conduct various studies. This historical and innovative technology of printing can be used in studies ranging from thin-film-transistors and digital circuit development to artificial lung models and coronavirus infections. It can also be used in basic research fields such as observing the behavior of a single static ink droplet of a picoliter, to industrial fields such as next-generation display production sites. The fact that I can work with great researchers from various fields and contribute to society has led me to do this research so far.
What I am most excited about these days is creating artificial lungs with a 3D printer to study coronavirus infections. In our laboratory, we are using human cells to create tissues that mimic the functions and structures of human organs to measure the efficacy and toxicity of new drugs. We have already verified that FDA-approved drugs, such as Remdesivir, are valid in our model and are testing several other drugs. It is the first time in Korea to apply artificial tissues to virus infection studies.
Another field I am interested in is combining a new bio-sensing platform with artificial organs. To observe changes in the structure and function of artificial organs, immunoperoxidase staining methods or real-time polymerase chain reaction tests are used. In this process, the tissue is damaged and becomes no longer usable. To solve this problem, we are working on developing a new bio-sensor using a biocompatible thin film transistor and transplanting it into tissues. This is a technological milestone that allows us to see the state of the tissues for a long time without damaging them, so we are studying it with great expectations.
The research that was published in Nature at the end of 2020 by simulating bladder cancer with bio-printing technology is the most memorable research I conducted. I started research on developing a bio-printing technology and applying it to artificial organs in 2014 with a graduate student who had majored in biology. I had a lot of experience and knowledge in printing materials, processes, and semiconductor applications, but I had no basis in biology. There was no proper research equipment for bio-printing when I first arrived at POSTECH. Moreover, the research on simulating artificial organs with bio-printing was in the early stages worldwide, and it was not well known in Korea. Without any research basis, knowledge, or experience, it was a big challenge for a professor with a Ph.D. in engineering and a graduate student who majored in biology to jump into a new field.
After the reckless start of bio-printing research, for the first time in Korea, we developed an inkjet printing technology that can pattern cells in three dimensions with the most precision. We also developed an artificial lung model that is similar to the human lung and conducted research on virus infection, including the coronavirus. It was a very pleasurable and meaningful achievement for me to announce the results of the study of a three-dimensional cancer model in Nature, after seven years of research.
I think the most important acquisition as a researcher is “independence”. Independence is about asking oneself questions to find a problem and new ways to solve it. We mature as independent researchers throughout the undergraduate-master-doctor course by building knowledge, challenging ourselves, and succeeding with the guidance of professors and cooperating with colleagues. To become a truly independent researcher, it is important not to follow in the footsteps of others or do research that has predicted results. I want you to choose a topic that others do not choose and that is difficult to imitate. As a researcher and an educator, I also continue to find and challenge new research topics.
The next important acquirement is “partnership”. “We have discovered the secret of life,” James Watson shouted as he ran into the Eagle Pub on Feb. 21, 1953. Watson and his research partner, Francis Crick, always had a daily meal at the pub and discussed their research. Watson, a young man who earned his Ph.D. in science at 22, and Crick, a Ph.D. candidate at 35, achieved a long-lasting scientific achievement in human history and won the Nobel Prize for identifying the DNA structure, the biggest challenge in biology at the time. We are living in an era of technological convergence. Science is a social arena. When asked why others could not find the double helix structure, Watson replied, “Because they were isolated.” Partnership, which allows researchers to cooperate and live in harmony with people around them, is one of the greatest virtues that researchers living in this era must acquire.
If you are looking forward to becoming a researcher, I suggest two things.
First, visit the Log Cabin often. As the COVID-19 pandemic is about to end, the Log Cabin, POSTECH’s specialty pub, will soon be reopened. Sit around the table of the Log Cabin with your colleagues and professors, and talk about your daily life and science. Just as Watson and Crick did, exchanging knowledge and conversation will inspire you to change the world, and find lifelong colleagues to accomplish your goals.
Secondly, “do not hang out with boring people.” This is what Watson said, it is boring to hang out with people who just follow trends without any consideration, chase easy and broad paths that everyone else takes, and cannot think creatively. I hope you become people who are exciting and unpredictable.