Sucheol Shin smiles on a boat.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Sucheol Shin

Categories: Students

Chemistry Graduate Student Sucheol Shin describes his research and answers 20 random questions as part of the Graduate Student Spotlight series.

Originally from South Korea, Sucheol Shin has been at MIT for four and a half years. Sucheol’s doctoral research in Professor Adam Willard‘s group has been focused on water interfaces and hydration properties. One of the main thrusts in his research was to understand the molecular structure of water interfaces, which makes their physical properties distinct from those of the bulk liquid. Specifically, Sucheol studied the microscopic origin of the unique dielectric properties at the liquid water-vapor interface, which are fundamental to many chemical processes facilitated by the interface. Using a simple physical model, he was able to isolate the significant effects of non-ideal hydrogen bonding structures on the interfacial dielectric properties. Conversely, he also developed a theoretical framework to characterize the hydration properties based on the molecular structure of water interfaces. This framework is effective for describing local hydrophobicity of a chemically heterogeneous surface even with its own dynamics such as a protein surface, and Sucheol expects it to become a promising tool to elucidate the microscopic details behind complex biomolecular phenomena.

As the first Graduate Student Spotlight of 2018,  Sucheol reveals the TV character he’d most like to trade places with for a week, the piece of entertainment he would erase from his mind in order to experience all over again for the first tine, the items he would be buried with in Ancient Egypt, and more!

1. How did you decide to do the work you are doing now?
I did my undergraduate research in UC Berkeley, where my current Advisor, Adam Willard, did his PhD. When I entered MIT, I found the project originated from Adam’s doctoral study attractive so I chose to take over it.

2. What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue? 
I might be traveling worldwide for visiting all the Michelin 3-star restaurants.

3. What fictional place would you most like to go?

4. What piece of entertainment do you wish you could erase from your mind so that you could experience for the first time again?
The Batman Trilogy by Christopher Nolan.

5. What are some red flags to watch out for in daily life?
Being lazy or killing time with random internet surfing.

6. What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?
The Hangover.

7. In the past people were buried with the items they would need in the afterlife, what would you want buried with you so you could use it in the afterlife?
An iPad in which the photos/videos of my favorites and several good novels are stored. A bunch of supplemental batteries would be also helpful since I don’t know if there’s electric charging available in the afterlife.

8. Where are some unusual places you’ve been?
One of them might be the Korean Army Training Center where I had to spend very tough 4 weeks prior to my national service in South Korea.

9. If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator? 

10. If you could know the truth behind every conspiracy, but you would instantly die if you hinted that you knew the truth, would you want to know?
I think there is no such a hidden story I would be eager to know to the extent that I could give up my life.

11. What TV show character would it be the most fun to change places with for a week? 
Sherlock Holmes from <Sherlock>.

12. What would be the best thing you could reasonably expect to find in a cave? 
A pond.

13. What’s the most ridiculous animal on the planet?
The sloth.

14. What’s the best thing about the place you grew up?
It took me only 5 minutes to walk from my home to the elementary and middle schools that I went to.

15. What inconsequential super power would you like to have?
Maybe the power that keeps my hair style and length the same and regular.

16. What’s incredibly cheap and you would pay way more for?
Hmm.. can there be such a thing for a graduate student??

17. What fictional characters have you had a crush on over the years?
Michael Corleone.

18. What would be the hat to end all hats?
A hat capable of projecting a dynamic hologram above it.

19. What two things are terrible when separate but great when you put them together?

20. If you owned a restaurant, what kind of food would it serve?
Authentic Korean food.

Many thanks to Sucheol for these thoughtful answers! Stay tuned for more Graduate Student Spotlights in the months to come!