Bachelor, Chonbuk National University
Master, Doctor, Sydney University
Nature Publishing Group Editor
National Academy of Science Fellow
Chief Editor of Applied Biological Chemistry
Senior Researcher Ciba-Geigy Limited
Professor at Chonbuk National University
There was a time in Korea when people were afraid of killer mites and other pests of the environment. However, a method to control these pests soon came out. Who was the savior behind this situation? It is Professor Lee Hoi-seon from the Department of Bioenvironmental Chemistry. Why don’t we find out more about him?
●You found out a lot of ways to control pests. How did you find these methods? Were they a coincidence? Can you tell us the story behind the methods?
I think the word “coincidence” isn’t the correct word for scientific findings. I think these results come from endless efforts and research. For the case of the killer mites, there wasn’t a cure for the killer mites worldwide. Not all mites are deadly, but the mites with the SFTS virus are fatal and there are no vaccines. So, because I studied mites for the last 20 years, I tried to find a way to solve this problem and did for the first time in the world. For the case of Ricania shantungensis, these pests are not domestic insects. They came from China because of climate change and were destroying the ecosystem. So I did research on them and found a method to control them for the first time in the world.
●You also did research on graphene, but isn’t this material something for the engineering sector? However, you said this material could be applied biologically. Could you tell us more about it?
The research on graphene wasn’t done solely by CBNU but was done with other universities. When I studied graphene, I found out that this material was a splendid delivery medium. So to make this material to be safely applied biologically, I did research on the toxicology of graphene. If the graphene isn’t toxic, there will be a limitless use of this material in the pharmaceutical field.
●What kind of research are you doing nowadays? Is there going to be an eye-catching research result soon?
Nowadays I’m doing research on the diabetes mechanism. The related thesis has been submitted to “Nature” and is under second review. . If there is a problem, I will keep on submitting defenses. I hope to see the final result at the end of the year.
●You have made many astonishing research results and you are a ‘big guy’ in the scientific field. To achieve these results you would have undergone a lot of difficulties. How did you get the patience to endure these difficulties?
To tell the truth, I can’t explain how to endure difficulties to others because I didn’t try to endure, it came naturally. I made these results because I wanted to and loved what I did. Even now I wake up at five a.m. and go to the lab all year round. When I was a student, I was at the lab till one a.m., and after an hour of sleep, I came back to the lab and did more research. Because of this pattern, I fainted two times, but I never regretted it because I was doing what I loved. As I said before, if you do what you love, you can endure almost anything.
●What are your future plans? Do you have anything to say to CBNU students?
When I first became a professor I came up with three goals to achieve before I retired: becoming a member of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology, having a thesis approved by Nature Research and having it published in the Nature Journal, and having half my whole disciples come to my retirement ceremony. I have already achieved two of them: I am a member of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology and I have a thesis approved by Nature Research. Actually, I have achieved more than I expected because I am one of the two professors in CBNU to have a Nature thesis and I’m a Nature Group Editor and the Chief Editor of Applied Biological Chemistry. I hope I can achieve my last goal in the future. Rather than these specific goals, I hope I can keep researching with my disciples. I think that nothing could have been achieved without the help of my disciples.
Many students nowadays go to universities according to their test scores, so I think the domain of knowledge has been degraded. So I wish students would find out what they want to do and work hard to prepare for the future. I guarantee that in the end, not the best brain but the student that tries their best will succeed. Also, I hope students date a lot. By dating, students can learn confidence and various experiences. I think this also leads to passion, so love is pretty important.
At CBNU, there are a lot of famous people. By reading this article, you got to know about another one. In the future, we can worry less about environmental problems in Korea because we have a problem solver, Professor Lee Hoi-seon. If you have any ideas related to the field of his research, feel free to discuss it with the professor. He awaits sincere and polite students.
|<What is that?>
Graphene: A material 200 times stronger than the strongest steel. It conducts heat and electricity very efficiently and is nearly transparent.
Korean Academy of Science and Technology: The Korean Academy of Science and Technology is South Korea's highest academy of science and serves as an integrated think-tank for the country's science and technology.