Young Hun (Colin) Kim ‘18

“I really enjoy doing research… There are so many things about nature that we don’t know… and using what we do know to discover things that we don’t know is really cool.”

Colin immigrated to the United States from Korea when he was ten years old. From a young age, he enjoyed building things and was amazed by science and nature. However, the challenge of learning a new language while adapting to a new academic environment discouraged his interest in science.

He revisited this interest much later, during the summer before he came to UCSB. While taking courses at a community college, an engaging teacher sparked his interest in math and science. Colin decided that he wanted to explore the scientific disciplines at UCSB, and he began his freshman year by taking chemistry courses.

After learning that undergraduates could do research, he visited his chemistry teaching assistant to talk about research. This led Colin to meet Professor Irene Chen, a researcher in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and join her lab.

Under Professor Chen’s mentorship, Colin began working on different projects studying bacteriophages and, with the encouragement of Professor Chen, he applied to the College of Creative Studies as a Biochemistry major.

The summer after his sophomore year, Colin was accepted into the MARC Scholar’s Program at UCSB, a two-year scientific research scholarship program for underrepresented or disadvantaged students. He began by developing a method to swab and recover bacteriophages from human skin with the goal of quantifying and characterizing the genome of bacteriophages and bacteria in the microbiome of skin wounds.

He is currently part of a project developing a diagnostic tool that uses bacteriophages to detect specific strains of bacteria. This summer, he plans to conduct research outside of UCSB as part of the Amgen Scholars Program at Stanford University.

After college, Colin wants to apply to PhD programs that emphasize interdisciplinary studies, collaboration, and mentorship. Then, he hopes to continue doing research as a postdoctoral scholar. Eventually, he hopes to lead his own research lab at a university.

His tips for anyone looking into pursuing research:

-Don’t be afraid to approach professors or graduate students and talk about their research.

-Visit a professor’s website and read some of their publications. You don’t have to completely understand their work, but if you are interested in their work, you should email them or visit during office hours to talk with them.