Seongsin (Margaret) Kim - 2016-17 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Associate Professor, University of Alabama, USA
Country of Birth: South Korea
When I was young, I was fascinated when reading articles about exploration of the universe, which naturally led me to study physics. I believed I could be able to solve all problems in the world by understanding physics. I have had a few mentors who encouraged and supported me to study science, but my father, who is also a renowned civil engineer, had a strong influence on my choice to become an engineer.
I spend most of my time carrying out experimental and theoretical research to advance the frontiers of science, while also teaching and mentoring students. My research focuses on Terahertz (THz) Photonics and Metamaterials and I dream to be able to find a solution for the early detection of cancer and to make human life better using Terahertz (THz) and photonics technology. I enjoy mentoring my students, observing their successes and their becoming independent researchers. I also volunteer my time to the scientific community, like SPIE, as a reviewer, committee member, and organizer.
I faced my biggest obstacle when I became a mother during my research associateship at Stanford University. Even though I had tremendous support from my advisor and fellows, the future of my scientific career and family life quickly became uncertain, and I was scared. In retrospect, this was a blessing. With time, I managed to reconcile career and family life by growing stronger from this challenge, becoming braver, more considerate and smarter on how to manage time. I also learned how to ask for help. It is important to dream big, be passionate about a topic and nurture this passion. You should like what you are doing.
Finally, it is perfectly OK to be aggressive and ambitious, but we can also be very nice to others at the same time, since we are women!