Interview with Prof Jang

In this issue of the EE Newsletter, I interviewed professor Jang Min-seok who came to KAIST May 2016.

Professor Jang Min-seok is a graduate of KAIST Department of Physics and a got a Ph’D from California Institute

of Technology in Applied Physics.  For it has not been long time since he graduated it felt like I was listening

to story from senior during the interview. Professor Jang Min-seok is conducting research on making nanophotonics

based on optical and solid physics in the nano scale. Through this interview, I was able to hear about his research

field, undergraduate years, and graduate school days.


Q) First, please introduce yourself to the readers shortly.

A)  Hello I am Min-Seok Jang, I am KAIST allumni class of 03 (entrance year), majored in physics Not same major

as you but went to same college as you guys I received his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from the California Institute of

Technology and was appointed to the KAIST EE in May of last year.


Q) Please tell us about your research field and future prospects.

A) My research area is nanotechnology. It is my research to do interesting things using plasmonics and metamaterials.

Because the size of the light is fixed to the wavelength, conventional optical devices are large and it has been extremely

difficult to make the device smaller than 1 micrometer. The use of surface plasmon, a combined particle of light and

electrons, can dramatically reduce the size of optical devices.  You can get a lot of benefits by using a small optical device

to keep the light in a small space.  It can be used in various fields for example, light can be held in very thin solar cells

for a long time to increase efficiency or it can increase sensitivity of sensors by using small devices In addition, materials

with optical properties that do not exist in nature are called meta-materials you can make these things and fool the light. 

This concept is being used commercially for simple solar cells and sensors.


Q)  After finishing your undergraduate course at KAIST, you went to overseas and returned to KAIST. Tell us your more

about your college life and the difference you feel as an undergraduate and professor at KAIST.

A) When I was a college student, I spent a lot of time practicing, hanging out and studying  with my friends. One special thing

with my college life was that I solve my homeworks all by myself  I was not a sincere student in class because I thought

homework and exam were more important than class itself. However, when I do lectures, I feel a great sense of responsibility

and spend a lot of time preparing my classes.


Q) How was your life in Caltech?

A) I wanted to study abroad in a new place to have a new experience. I went to the Graduate School of Applied Physics because

I thought that I had an abstract in physics department and less related to the real world during my undergrad years. I did not do

much research in advance about studying overseas like the people preparing for studying abroad, Neverthless I was able to live

my life without big trouble. I thought that graduate school life was good enough to even think that I want to continue graduate

school life. However, after graduate school, I thought life at the graduate school is a single log bridge between the cliffs. I went

overseas without a lot of information, so I was able to cross my single log bridge without fear in the fog. If you know too much, I

think it gets more difficult to cross the bridge. worrying about the failure I think it is okay to believe in your choice after a reasonable

preliminary investigation rather than being stressed by excessive preliminary information. I would like to tell students who are

preparing to study abroad that KAIST’s undergraduate level of education is competitive enough. When I was in graduate school,

I had never had difficulties because of lack of academic foundation. If you are studying hard at KAIST and you have achieved

good results, you will not be short of going to universities around the world.


Q)Please tell me what kind of professor you want to be.

A) In research, I hope that even in a small field, I wish to be “the person in that field”  around the world. And it would be best if

we could open up a new field of research. As a professor in my laborartory,  I want to create a culture in which people can freely

discuss. When walking down the road in desert, you must have a base point to walk straight. In the same token, feedback is

required in the lab so that we can continue in the right direction. Professors are often unable to receive feedback because they

have the authority within the lab. At least for my research based on facts, it is my wish to create an atmosphere where I can say

that I am wrong.


Q) Lastly, what do you want to say to students of KAIST EE?

A) It may be contradictory advice, but the first is to study hard. What you study during undergrad years felt remain for a long time .

Since you can’t really form a fundamental studies while you are doing a research since you only study what you need. But what I

want to also say at the same time is that we have to balance in three areas: work and study, human relations, and hobbies. A person

with multiple facets will become stable from a long-term perspective It is because when one side is not doing well, one can get

comfort in other ways. So, I would like to say to undergrads to do all things (study, human relations, hobbies) once again.


Reporter Junghyo Kim

Reporter Hyunjung Jo