Chemistry Graduate Student Jane Park describes her research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.
Originally from Seoul, South Korea (though she spent time living in Chicago, Illinois while in middle school), Jane Park recently completed her third year at MIT. As a member of Professor Pablo Jarillo-Herrero’s group in the Department of Physics, Jane works on quantum electrical transport in two-dimensional (2D) van der Waals heterostructures. More specifically, she creates novel materials exhibiting exotic superconductivity and strongly correlated phenomena by controlling the relative twist angle between the 2D materials. One example includes magic-angle twisted graphene superlattices. Jane also develop new ways to study such interesting behaviors, such as thermodynamic measurements of chemical potential, entropy, etc.
As the subject of this month’s Graduate Student Spotlight, Jane shares the smell that brings back great memories, her ideal way to spend the weekend, the person who has impressed her the most with their accomplishments, and more!
- What random job do you think you’d be really good at?
I think I would be good at cleaning and organizing newly built houses.
- What food do you crave most often?
I love everything that contains cheese and chocolate. Not together, though. In terms of specific dish, I love spicy tteokbokki with mozzarella on top, and Korean fried chicken. I also often crave thick, dark chocolate brownies.
- Would you rather have an unlimited international first class ticket or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
I would want an unlimited international first class ticket– it’s something I’ve never experienced, and something that I probably won’t spend my own money on. I have been happily paying for all the food that I crave.
- What would be your ideal way to spend the weekend?
In a non-COVID situation, I would meet my friends and chat over nice meals and desserts. I like staying and hanging out near my place for the weekend, rather than going on a dramatic trip.
- Who are three of your favorite fictional characters?
Gatsby, Matilda, Holden Caulfield
- What smell brings back great memories?
The smell of mildly cold wind in a street with a lot of trees, in the early morning. It brings back the memory of my family trip to Greece when I was seven, which was my first trip abroad. It somehow reminds me of walking in the street full of fig trees in Crete.
- Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?
My mom is the role model for me. She has accomplished so much as a (female) scientist and engineer (in a country and period where such was extremely rare), while also raising me with immeasurable love and care.
- Why did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
I started liking science (all of a sudden) when I was in college, and decided to study further.
- What was your favorite book as a child, and what is your favorite book now?
I loved Lemony Snicket’s a series of unfortunate events as a child, and read the entire series multiple times. At this moment, I like Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku.
- Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?
President Moon Jae-In
- What moment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience it for the first time again?
When I got my first 100% on a physics midterm in college (when my freshman self was thinking of majoring in political science).
- If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?
I want to build a super tall building in the middle of a big city, and place my major rooms on the top floor for a nice view. I would make a slide down to the lowest level directly from there.
- What bends your mind every time you think about it?
What is the driving force, like a thermodynamic one, behind the biological phenomena? What framework can connect the fundamental physical understanding of the microscopic world to what’s happening in the biological level?
- What would be the best vacation to take?
Family trips to historical places (close to restaurants with nice food and fancy hotels).
- What is on your bucket list?
Walk the Camino de Santiago
- What is your favorite four-legged creature?
- An epic feast is held in your honor, what’s on the table?
- What would be the scariest monster you could imagine?
An enlarged version of insects..
- What’s something common from your childhood that will seem strange to future generations?
Calling my friends’ home phone in elementary school. Usually the friend’s parent picked up, and I would introduce myself and ask to see if the friend is at home. We did it even for the smallest things ever, like just asking some random things. These days, even very young kids have their own cell phones and they probably text each other.
- If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make?
Treat others exactly how you want to be treated!
Many thanks to Jane for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights in the months to come!