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A KAIST Student For a Month
Written by Claire Min | Published. 2018.09.04 15:13 | Count : 620
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), located in Yuseong-gu(Gu), Daejeon, was originally founded as the Korea Advanced Institute of Science (KAIS) in 1971 by five men after the Korean War. Later, they changed the name to include “T” (Technology) because it became clear that the technology was becoming an essential part of scientific advancement.
[East side of KAIST campus, photo taken by Claire Min]
My first impression of the campus was that it seemed extremely spacious with an abundance of plants and greens. KAIST campus is divided into three sections: North, West, and East. Each building has an enormous orange label which makes very easy to find the buildings. The building I worked at, Department of Biological Sciences, is located on the east side.
[Main entrance of the building for all sciences, photo taken by Claire Min]
At first, I was a bit hesitant about performing the experiments with mice. However, over the course, I learned about the important contribution that mice and other testing animals make in the research and ultimately in the development of medicine. Test animals, such as mice and monkeys, share similar brain structures and functionalities as humans, so they are often used to test the safety and the efficacy of the medications before the human studies.

The experiment I predominantly worked on was with a rising junior at KAIST. He was working on a project to create an effective solution for weight control. The stage that I became involved was to determine which medicine caused the mice to lose or gain weight. For the first few days, I learned and practiced a specific procedure called oral gavage to feed the mice. When I became proficient with the procedure, I was assigned to feed 24 mice at the Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) lab every day. The SPF room is free of germs or pathogens, and to preserve the environment, I needed to be fully covered in the “dressing room,” wearing a mask, head and body wear, foot covers, and latex gloves.  In addition to that, I had to be air showered for 15 seconds before touching any mice. Since going in and out of the lab can cause germs to enter, I had to bring all my materials all at once: 24 mice (8 cages), new cages, fresh food, syringes, microtubes, micropipette, testing solutions, a scale, and a beaker. When I enter the lab, the first thing I do is to replace the old cages with the new ones and to replenish their food in the cage. Then, I weighed each mouse to note the difference in their weight.  Following that, I inserted the medicine (the function of medicine varies: some are to put on weight, some are to lose weight) proportional to the weight of the mouse. For example, if a mouse weighs 26.9 grams, then it needs to be injected with 269 ul. I repeated this procedure with all 24 mice, which takes about two hours.

[Picture of the mice, photo taken by Claire Min]
At the lab, we have a Journal Club three times a week. During a journal club, our team members read scientific articles and had discussions. For several of the meetings, I prepared presentations on the journal articles I read. 
[Basic summary of the journal article for the discussion, photo taken by Claire Min] 
As my summer break ends, I am reminded of fond memories during my KAIST internship: late-night experiments, bicycle rides around the campus, chilling at their amazing libraries etc. But more than anything, I am reminded of the wonderful friendships I made at the lab. I just wish that my internship lasted forever.

Claire Min
Korea International School

Claire Min  student_reporter@dherald.com

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  • Jason W 2018-10-06 12:22:21

    Great article - an internship is surely an exciting experience and a great way to confirm interest. The structure of the article accommodates any audience and effective in communicating your experience. It would be better to see more of your thoughts and how you envision this experience to help you.   삭제

    • Jaehong Min 2018-09-12 20:06:50

      As a student who is also interested in STEM-related fields, this was a joy to read! It's quite an amazing experience that you got to present what you found with KAIST students. It would have been great if you included a brief explanation of the things you found/researched, and why you like it!   삭제

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