Nature Chemistry | The Sceptical Chymist

Reactions – Myunghyun Paik Suh

Myunghyun Paik Suh is in the Department of Chemistry at Seoul National University in Korea, where she works on functional coordination polymers – including porous metal-organic frameworks that can be applied in the storage and separation of organic molecules and gases.

1. What made you want to be a chemist?

I’ve enjoyed science and mathematics since I was an elementary student. While studying these topics, I would forget about the whole world. I found extreme happiness by solving difficult problems. I wanted to be a mathematician or a scientist – I chose to be a chemist because I thought chemists can solve human problems in a more direct way than other sciences.

2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be – and why?

A violinist. I started playing violin at the age of 6 and I loved it. I was recognized as a good violinist and I considered becoming a professional, but my parents did not want me to be a musician.Even though I never became a professional violinist, I still enjoy playing music.

3. What are you working on now, and where do you hope it will lead?

I am developing smart solid materials that can selectively and efficiently capture carbon dioxide from industry flue gas. I hope that these materials can be applied in industry to capture carbon dioxide, which will contribute to solving the problem of global warming.

4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with – and why?

I would like to have dinner with Albert Einstein, who is a genius and also a violinist. I am fascinated by his exceptionally high IQ and EQ.

5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab – and what was it?

My last experiment in the lab was about 6 years ago when a student measured the magnetic susceptibility of a compound. He had to prepare a sample with great care, and I worked with him in the lab for an entire week.

6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one music album would you take with you?

I would take a bible and an album of Viotti violin concertos (# 22 and 23) with me. I would take the time to re-write the whole bible, which I believe would enhance my religious mind. When listening to Viotti violin concertos, all my emotions burst out. Life would not be boring even on a desert island.

7. Which chemist would you like to see interviewed on Reactions – and why?

Professor George Whitesides. I am curious to hear what such an active chemist would have done if he had chosen something other than chemistry.

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