HOME Work & Internship
Eye Opening Internship at KAIST
Written by Claire Min | Published. 2018.08.06 20:09 | Count : 1641
From July 2nd to August 3rd, I have had an amazing opportunity to intern at one of Korea’s most prestigious universities: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), specifically in the Department of Biological Life Sciences. My professor, Greg Suh (former professor of New York University), was extremely welcoming when I first arrived; he introduced me to all the undergraduate and graduate students at the laboratory. The research group is consisted of three graduate students, two of whom are in their fourth year and one in her second year, as well as two rising junior undergraduate students. There are three interns in this lab like me, participating in the Undergraduate Research Program (URP). Students engaged in this program are currently enrolled in other universities, but the program allows the students to learn from the professors and work at KAIST labs. The lab I was assigned to spend my five weeks of summer specializes in the neurobiology of mice and drosophila (fruit flies). 

[Laboratory of Greg S. B. Suh in KAIST: Department of Biological Sciences, 
photo taken by Claire Min]

First, I learned about an experiment that the second year graduate student is engaged in. She investigates the mice’s neuron activities when they encounter food or a random object. She inserts numerous mice, one at a time, into a box divided into two rooms that are decorated with different wallpaper patterns. Between the rooms, there is a narrow pathway that mice take to go to the either of the rooms. The length of the experiment varies, but at the beginning, she places food in one corner of a room and just a random object in another room. She observes which room the mouse favors, and then towards the end of the experiment, she removes both of the objects to see if the mouse can remember the room that used to contain the food solely by recognizing the wallpaper. 

[Mice experimental box, photo taken by Claire Min]

Another graduate student examines the brain activity of the drosophila by looking at what type of food they prefer: high sugar solutions, high-calorie solutions, or salty solutions. He performs multiple experiments with different solutions to investigate if drosophila has an intuitive power, like a sixth sense, to find the most palatable solution. Usually, one ingredient is colored red, and the other is colored green. After the fruit flies have had enough time to eat, he places them under a microscope to see which color each one ate (drosophila has light brown, almost transparent skin, allowing scientists to see the internal organ rather clearly). 

During my time in the lab, we have had lab meetings every week to organize our schedules and to present and discuss the data gathered that week. With this opportunity, I learned about the details of different experiments at the lab. During my internship, I also had a chance to attend the MT (Membership Training) with GIST (Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology) students. The MT consisted of two full days of seminars conducted by professors from different expertise and discussions among students on various scientific topics.  

[KAIST & GIST MT, photo taken by pension staff]

Last Tuesday, I attended a seminar on the advancement of biotechnology in Korea. It was difficult to understand half of the concepts but I left the room fascinated by the industry and piqued my interest in biology. 

Although my daily routine does not end until 8 or 9 PM, I know that others stay at the lab until 2 or 3 in the morning. Graduate students have no summer or winter breaks, and their work extends well into the weekends. Despite their overwhelming commitment to work, it was admirable to hear that they are excited and proud of conducting experiments that will one day generate medicines or remedies to cure diseases so to improve the quality of life for everyone.



Claire Min
Korea International School

Claire Min  student_reporter@dherald.com

<Copyright © The Herald Insight, All rights reseverd.>

Reply 3
View All
  • Rachel Lee 2018-08-20 16:43:07

    It must have felt great to get to study biology on a greater scale than what you probably experience at school! Your internship at KAIST must've given you lots of opportunities for gaining mentorship and experience in science.   삭제

    • Matthew Choi 2018-08-07 18:18:49

      I am intrigued by your experiences in the labs! This gives me inspiration to aspire for my
      future as a rising junior. I hope that you continue to dive deeper into your hopes of
      achieving a bio-related career. I wish you good luck in writing articles and keep up the good effort!   삭제

      • Jaehong Min 2018-08-07 00:10:30

        I envy that you had the experience to interact with KAIST students and do actual work in the labs! Your article gave me a positive sense of what's to happen in the future of my life as a student. I hope I can have such a memorable experience as well.   삭제

        Back to Top