Hee-Sun was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. She was deeply inspired by frequent visits to her Father’s polymer chemistry laboratory throughout her youth but her initial interest in Chemistry was more on the theory side. During her college, she worked in the lab of computational biology and biomolecular engineering led by Chaok Seok, where they developed methods to predict the 3D structure of novel proteins with focus on protein loop modeling and to evaluate protein-ligand interactions. During her undergraduate research, she learned that she highly enjoys working at the interface of chemistry, biology and engineering and pioneers broadly applicable technologies that can be used to study previously inaccessible areas of life sciences. Right after college, she moved to Cambridge, USA to pursue graduate work in Physical Chemistry at MIT as a Samsung and KASF fellow. Under the guidance of Moungi G. Bawendi, she designed and synthesized quantum dot based imaging probes and used them to establish a multiplexed, phenotypic, intravital cytometric imaging platform. Using the new technology, she achieved live cell imaging in wildtype mice at single cell resolution and probed their native extracellular environments in vivo. While in vivo imaging studies enable us to characterize the phenotype of cells and their extra-cellular environments, fundamental understanding of cellular behaviors requires molecular profiling of cells. Hence, Hee-Sun joined Harvard University as a postdoctoral fellow to work with David A. Weitz, where she developed drop-based microfluidic platforms for high throughput sequencing of single cells and viruses. In the fall of 2017, she joined the Chemistry department at UIUC as an Assistant professor and Mark A. Pytosh Scholar. With her team, she is pioneering new technologies integrating diverse chemical and physical principles to obtain a holistic understanding of intact, highly complex biological systems at single molecule resolution. Hee-Sun enjoys hiking, skiing, and playing the piano.
Honors and Awards
Mark A. Pytosh Scholar (2017-), Morse Travel Grant (2011), KFAS Scholarship for Ph.D. Studies (2006-2012), Samsung Scholarship for Ph.D. Studies (2006-2011), Valedictorian, Summa Cum Laude, Seoul National University (2006), Representative of Korea in Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (2006), KFAS Scholarship for outstanding undergraduate students (2004-2006), Merit Based Scholarship, Seoul National University, (2002-2006)