Making new discoveries always excites me

In third grade, Myungshin Im made a Kappa-monster costume by himself out of carton papers and received first prize for it. "Other kids had commercially produced costumes which looked better in my eyes, but the teacher gave me the first prize valuing my hard work and originality of costume." Supported by his favorite teacher, Myungshin came to believe that "it pays off when you work hard and make something new."

Growing up in the urban areas of Korea, he says he had few chances to look at the night sky and wonder about the mystery of the universe. "I was more interested in science fictions where heroes and heroines wandered around the universe."

Myungshin says finding new kinds of stars and astronomical phenomena is exciting. "I feel fortunate for getting paid to study ‘the evolution of galaxies' or ‘the growth of super-massive black holes.'" He says he also likes traveling to places like Mauna Kea in Hawaii with an observatory 12,000 feet in the air.

To stay awake late at night during observing runs, Myungshin says he consumes lots of caffeine from coffee, soft drinks, and chocolate. If he gets bored or needs to rest his eyes, he will step outside to watch the night sky or look for interesting creatures.

As a kid, Myungshin says he thought about becoming an artist and still likes painting. He says his other hobbies are hiking and watching movies. "Meng-gu" is his six-month-old cat's name. Also, his favorite pizza toppings are extra cheese, anchovies and "bulgogi," a Korean barbeque beef.

Most of the time, Myungshin says he is analyzing data he collects from observing runs, writing papers, and preparing for his next observation. "Making new discoveries always excites me," he says. "Seeing my students finish PhDs makes me happy, too."

As for life on other plants, Myungshin says, "With so many possible places where life can appear, I think that there is life somewhere in the universe other than on the Earth."

Myungshin Im
Associate Professor, Physics and Astronomy, Seoul National University
PhD, Johns Hopkins University
MS, Johns Hopkins University
BS, Physics, Seoul National University