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Prof. Junil Choi Receives the Neal Shepherd Memorial Award
Professor Junil Choi of the School of Electrical Engineering received the 2021 Neal Shepherd Memorial Award from the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society. The award recognizes the most outstanding paper relating to radio propagation published in major journals over the previous five years. Professor Cho, the recipient of the 2015 IEEE Signal Processing Society’s and the 2019 IEEE Communications Society’s Best Paper Award, was selected as the awardee for his paper titled “The Impact of Beamwidth on Temporal Channel Variation in Vehicular Channels and Its Implications” in IEEE Transaction on Vehicular Technology in 2017. In this paper, Professor Choi and his team derived the channel coherence time for a wireless channel as a function of the beamwidth, taking both Doppler effect and pointing error into consideration. The results showed that a nonzero optimal beamwidth exists that maximizes the channel coherence time. To reduce the impact of the overhead of doing realignment in every channel coherence time, the paper showed that the beams should be realigned every beam coherence time for the best performance. Professor Choi said, “It is quite an honor to receive this prestigious award following Professor Joonhyun Kang who won the IEEE VTS’s Jack Neubauer Memorial Award this year. It shows that our university’s pursuit of excellence in advanced research is being well recognized.”
VP Sang Yup Lee Honored with the Pony Chung Innovation Award
Vice President for Research Sang Yup Lee became the recipient of the Innovation Award by the Pony Chung Foundation that was established to honor the late Se-yung Chung, the former chairman of Hyundai Development Company. He will receive 200 million KRW in prize money. Chairman Chung developed Korea’s first domestically manufactured automobile, ‘Pony,’ in the mid-1970s that became the cornerstone of Korea’s auto industry today. Distinguished Professor Lee, from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is a pioneering scholar in the field of systems metabolic engineering who developed various micro-organisms for producing a wide range of fuels, chemicals, materials, and natural compounds. He recently was elected as a foreign member of the Royal Society in the UK and is the first Korean ever elected into the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in the US as well as one of 13 scholars elected as an International Member of both the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in the US.
Professor Jung Receives the Hansong Science Award
Professor Yousung Jung of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has been selected as the recipient of the 5th Hansong Science Award in Chemistry. The award recognizes young and mid-career scholars who made outstanding achievement in physics, chemistry, and life sciences. Recipients receive 50 million KRW in prize money. Professor Jung was recognized for finding a new way to predict synthesis potentials when designing data-based materials and molecules through AI-powered inverse technology. Conventionally, new material discovery mainly relied on a method where the new materials were proposed by an expert’s intuition or experimental trial, then synthesized to measure the properties of the material before it was used. However, this method took a lot of time, which resulted in an inefficient discovery process. Professor Jung’s AI reverse design technology is reported to be more efficient for discovering new materials by finding crystal structures with desired properties using data and AI algorithms. "AI reverse design technology can accelerate the development of new materials and new drugs," Professor Jung said. "It can be used as an algorithm for future autonomous laboratories implemented by robots, algorithms, and data without human intervention," he added.
Hydrogel-Based Flexible Brain-Machine Interface
The interface is easy to insert into the body when dry, but behaves ‘stealthily’ inside the brain when wet Professor Seongjun Park’s research team and collaborators revealed a newly developed hydrogel-based flexible brain-machine interface. To study the structure of the brain or to identify and treat neurological diseases, it is crucial to develop an interface that can stimulate the brain and detect its signals in real time. However, existing neural interfaces are mechanically and chemically different from real brain tissue. This causes foreign body response and forms an insulating layer (glial scar) around the interface, which shortens its lifespan. To solve this problem, the research team developed a ‘brain-mimicking interface’ by inserting a custom-made multifunctional fiber bundle into the hydrogel body. The device is composed not only of an optical fiber that controls specific nerve cells with light in order to perform optogenetic procedures, but it also has an electrode bundle to read brain signals and a microfluidic channel to deliver drugs to the brain. The interface is easy to insert into the body when dry, as hydrogels become solid. But once in the body, the hydrogel will quickly absorb body fluids and resemble the properties of its surrounding tissues, thereby minimizing foreign body response. The research team applied the device on animal models, and showed that it was possible to detect neural signals for up to six months, which is far beyond what had been previously recorded. It was also possible to conduct long-term optogenetic and behavioral experiments on freely moving mice with a significant reduction in foreign body responses such as glial and immunological activation compared to existing devices. “This research is significant in that it was the first to utilize a hydrogel as part of a multifunctional neural interface probe, which increased its lifespan dramatically,” said Professor Park. “With our discovery, we look forward to advancements in research on neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease that require long-term observation.” The research was published in Nature Communications on June 8, 2021. (Title: Adaptive and multifunctional hydrogel hybrid probes for long-term sensing and modulation of neural activity) The study was conducted jointly with an MIT research team composed of Professor Polina Anikeeva, Professor Xuanhe Zhao, and Dr. Hyunwoo Yook. This research was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) grant for emerging research, Korea Medical Device Development Fund, KK-JRC Smart Project, KAIST Global Initiative Program, and Post-AI Project. -PublicationPark, S., Yuk, H., Zhao, R. et al. Adaptive and multifunctional hydrogel hybrid probes for long-term sensing and modulation of neural activity. Nat Commun 12, 3435 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-23802-9 -ProfileProfessor Seongjun ParkBio and Neural Interfaces LaboratoryDepartment of Bio and Brain EngineeringKAIST
Professor Kang’s Team Receives the IEEE Jack Newbauer Memorial Award
Professor Joonhyuk Kang of the School of Electrical Engineering received the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society’s 2021 Jack Neubauer Memorial Award for his team’s paper published in IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology. The Jack Neubauer Memorial Award recognizes the best paper published in the IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology journal in the last five years. The team of authors, Professor Kang, Professor Sung-Ah Chung at Kyungpook National University, and Professor Osvaldo Simeone of King's College London reported their research titled Mobile Edge Computing via a UAV-Mounted Cloudlet: Optimization of Bit Allocation and Path Planning in IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, Vol. 67, No. 3, pp. 2049-2063, in March 2018. Their paper shows how the trajectory of aircraft is optimized and resources are allocated when unmanned aerial vehicles perform edge computing to help mobile device calculations. This paper has currently recorded nearly 400 citations (based on Google Scholar). "We are very happy to see the results of proposing edge computing using unmanned aerial vehicles by applying optimization theory, and conducting research on trajectory and resource utilization of unmanned aerial vehicles that minimize power consumption," said Professor Kang.
Repurposed Drugs Present New Strategy for Treating COVID-19
Virtual screening of 6,218 drugs and cell-based assays identifies best therapeutic medication candidates A joint research group from KAIST and Institut Pasteur Korea has identified repurposed drugs for COVID-19 treatment through virtual screening and cell-based assays. The research team suggested the strategy for virtual screening with greatly reduced false positives by incorporating pre-docking filtering based on shape similarity and post-docking filtering based on interaction similarity. This strategy will help develop therapeutic medications for COVID-19 and other antiviral diseases more rapidly. This study was reported at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Researchers screened 6,218 drugs from a collection of FDA-approved drugs or those under clinical trial and identified 38 potential repurposed drugs for COVID-19 with this strategy. Among them, seven compounds inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in Vero cells. Three of these drugs, emodin, omipalisib, and tipifarnib, showed anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in human lung cells, Calu-3. Drug repurposing is a practical strategy for developing antiviral drugs in a short period of time, especially during a global pandemic. In many instances, drug repurposing starts with the virtual screening of approved drugs. However, the actual hit rate of virtual screening is low and most of the predicted drug candidates are false positives. The research group developed effective filtering algorithms before and after the docking simulations to improve the hit rates. In the pre-docking filtering process, compounds with similar shapes to the known active compounds for each target protein were selected and used for docking simulations. In the post-docking filtering process, the chemicals identified through their docking simulations were evaluated considering the docking energy and the similarity of the protein-ligand interactions with the known active compounds. The experimental results showed that the virtual screening strategy reached a high hit rate of 18.4%, leading to the identification of seven potential drugs out of the 38 drugs initially selected. “We plan to conduct further preclinical trials for optimizing drug concentrations as one of the three candidates didn’t resolve the toxicity issues in preclinical trials,” said Woo Dae Jang, one of the researchers from KAIST. “The most important part of this research is that we developed a platform technology that can rapidly identify novel compounds for COVID-19 treatment. If we use this technology, we will be able to quickly respond to new infectious diseases as well as variants of the coronavirus,” said Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee. This work was supported by the KAIST Mobile Clinic Module Project funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF). The National Culture Collection for Pathogens in Korea provided the SARS-CoV-2 (NCCP43326). -PublicationWoo Dae Jang, Sangeun Jeon, Seungtaek Kim, and Sang Yup Lee. Drugs repurposed for COVID-19 by virtual screening of 6,218 drugs and cell-based assay. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (https://doi/org/10.1073/pnas.2024302118) -ProfileDistinguished Professor Sang Yup LeeMetabolic &Biomolecular Engineering National Research Laboratoryhttp://mbel.kaist.ac.kr Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringKAIST
Alumni Professor Cho at NYU Endows Scholarship for Female Computer Scientists
Alumni Professor Kyunghyun Cho at New York University endowed the “Lim Mi-Sook Scholarship” at KAIST for female computer scientists in honor of his mother. Professor Cho, a graduate of the School of Computing in 2011 completed his master’s and PhD at Alto University in Finland in 2014. He has been teaching at NYU since 2015 and received the Samsung Ho-Am Prize for Engineering this year in recognition of his outstanding researches in the fields of machine learning and AI. “I hope this will encourage young female students to continue their studies in computer science and encourage others to join the discipline in the future, thereby contributing to building a more diverse community of computer scientists,” he said in his written message. His parents and President Kwang Hyung Lee attended the donation ceremony held at the Daejeon campus on June 24. Professor Cho has developed neural network machine learning translation algorithm that is widely being used in translation engines. His contributions to AI-powered translations and innovation in the industry led him to win one of the most prestigious prizes in Korea. He decided to donate his 300 million KRW prize money to fund two 100 million KRW scholarships named after each of his parents: the Lim Mi-Sook Scholarship is for female computer scientists and the Bae-Gyu Scholarly Award for Classics is in honor of his father, who is a Korean literature professor at Soongsil University in Korea. He will also fund a scholarship at Alto University. “I recall there were less than five female students out of 70 students in my cohort during my undergraduate studies at KAIST even in later 2000s. Back then, it just felt natural that boys majored computer science and girls in biology.” He said he wanted to acknowledge his mother, who had to give up her teaching career in the 1980s to take care of her children. “It made all of us think more about the burden of raising children that is placed often disproportionately on mothers and how it should be better distributed among parents, relatives, and society in order to ensure and maximize equity in education as well as career development and advances.” He added, “As a small step to help build a more diverse environment, I have decided to donate to this fund to provide a small supplement to the small group of female students majoring in computer science.
Prof. Sang Wan Lee Selected for 2021 IBM Academic Award
Professor Sang Wan Lee from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering was selected as the recipient of the 2021 IBM Global University Program Academic Award. The award recognizes individual faculty members whose emerging science and technology contains significant interest for universities and IBM. Professor Lee, whose research focuses on artificial intelligence and computational neuroscience, won the award for his research proposal titled A Neuroscience-Inspired Approach for Metacognitive Reinforcement Learning. IBM provides a gift of $40,000 to the recipient’s institution in recognition of the selection of the project but not as a contract for services. Professor Lee’s project aims to exploit the unique characteristics of human reinforcement learning. Specifically, he plans to examines the hypothesis that metacognition, a human’s ability to estimate their uncertainty level, serves to guide sample-efficient and near-optimal exploration, making it possible to achieve an optimal balance between model-based and model-free reinforcement learning. He was also selected as the winner of the Google Research Award in 2016 and has been working with DeepMind and University College London to conduct basic research on decision-making brain science to establish a theory on frontal lobe meta-enhance learning. "We plan to conduct joint research for utilizing brain-based artificial intelligence technology and frontal lobe meta-enhanced learning technology modeling in collaboration with an international research team including IBM, DeepMind, MIT, and Oxford,” Professor Lee said.
Wearable Device to Monitor Sweat in Real Time
An on-skin platform for the wireless monitoring of flow rate, cumulative loss, and temperature of sweat in real time An electronic patch can monitor your sweating and check your health status. Even more, the soft microfluidic device that adheres to the surface of the skin, captures, stores, and performs biomarker analysis of sweat as it is released through the eccrine glands. This wearable and wireless electronic device developed by Professor Kyeongha Kwon and her collaborators is a digital and wireless platform that could help track the so-called ‘filling process’ of sweat without having to visually examine the device. The platform was integrated with microfluidic systems to analyze the sweat’s components. To monitor the sweat release rate in real time, the researchers created a ‘thermal flow sensing module.’ They designed a sophisticated microfluidic channel to allow the collected sweat to flow through a narrow passage and a heat source was placed on the outer surface of the channel to induce a heat exchange between the sweat and the heated channel. As a result, the researchers could develop a wireless electronic patch that can measure the temperature difference in a specific location upstream and downstream of the heat source with an electronic circuit and convert it into a digital signal to measure the sweat release rate in real time. The patch accurately measured the perspiration rate in the range of 0-5 microliters/minute (μl/min), which was considered physiologically significant. The sensor can measure the flow of sweat directly and then use the information it collected to quantify total sweat loss. Moreover, the device features advanced microfluidic systems and colorimetric chemical reagents to gather pH measurements and determine the concentration of chloride, creatinine, and glucose in a user's sweat. Professor Kwon said that these indicators could be used to diagnose various diseases related with sweating such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes, kidney dysfunction, and metabolic alkalosis. “As the sweat flowing in the microfluidic channel is completely separated from the electronic circuit, the new patch overcame the shortcomings of existing flow rate measuring devices, which were vulnerable to corrosion and aging,” she explained. The patch can be easily attached to the skin with flexible circuit board printing technology and silicone sealing technology. It has an additional sensor that detects changes in skin temperature. Using a smartphone app, a user can check the data measured by the wearable patch in real time. Professor Kwon added, “This patch can be widely used for personal hydration strategies, the detection of dehydration symptoms, and other health management purposes. It can also be used in a systematic drug delivery system, such as for measuring the blood flow rate in blood vessels near the skin’s surface or measuring a drug’s release rate in real time to calculate the exact dosage.” -PublicationKyeongha Kwon, Jong Uk Kim, John A. Rogers, et al. “An on-skin platform for wireless monitoring of flow rate, cumulative loss and temperature of sweat in real time.” Nature Electronics (doi.org/10.1038/s41928-021-00556-2) -ProfileProfessor Kyeongha KwonSchool of Electrical EngineeringKAIST
Biomimetic Resonant Acoustic Sensor Detecting Far-Distant Voices Accurately to Hit the Market
A KAIST research team led by Professor Keon Jae Lee from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering has developed a bioinspired flexible piezoelectric acoustic sensor with multi-resonant ultrathin piezoelectric membrane mimicking the basilar membrane of the human cochlea. The flexible acoustic sensor has been miniaturized for embedding into smartphones and the first commercial prototype is ready for accurate and far-distant voice detection. In 2018, Professor Lee presented the first concept of a flexible piezoelectric acoustic sensor, inspired by the fact that humans can accurately detect far-distant voices using a multi-resonant trapezoidal membrane with 20,000 hair cells. However, previous acoustic sensors could not be integrated into commercial products like smartphones and AI speakers due to their large device size. In this work, the research team fabricated a mobile-sized acoustic sensor by adopting ultrathin piezoelectric membranes with high sensitivity. Simulation studies proved that the ultrathin polymer underneath inorganic piezoelectric thin film can broaden the resonant bandwidth to cover the entire voice frequency range using seven channels. Based on this theory, the research team successfully demonstrated the miniaturized acoustic sensor mounted in commercial smartphones and AI speakers for machine learning-based biometric authentication and voice processing. (Please refer to the explanatory movie KAIST Flexible Piezoelectric Mobile Acoustic Sensor). The resonant mobile acoustic sensor has superior sensitivity and multi-channel signals compared to conventional condenser microphones with a single channel, and it has shown highly accurate and far-distant speaker identification with a small amount of voice training data. The error rate of speaker identification was significantly reduced by 56% (with 150 training datasets) and 75% (with 2,800 training datasets) compared to that of a MEMS condenser device. Professor Lee said, “Recently, Google has been targeting the ‘Wolverine Project’ on far-distant voice separation from multi-users for next-generation AI user interfaces. I expect that our multi-channel resonant acoustic sensor with abundant voice information is the best fit for this application. Currently, the mass production process is on the verge of completion, so we hope that this will be used in our daily lives very soon.” Professor Lee also established a startup company called Fronics Inc., located both in Korea and U.S. (branch office) to commercialize this flexible acoustic sensor and is seeking collaborations with global AI companies. These research results entitled “Biomimetic and Flexible Piezoelectric Mobile Acoustic Sensors with Multi-Resonant Ultrathin Structures for Machine Learning Biometrics” were published in Science Advances in 2021 (7, eabe5683). -Publication “Biomimetic and flexible piezoelectric mobile acoustic sensors with multiresonant ultrathin structures for machine learning biometrics,” Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe5683) -Profile Professor Keon Jae Lee Department of Materials Science and Engineering Flexible and Nanobio Device Lab http://fand.kaist.ac.kr/ KAIST
Krafton Matches Alumni Donations to Raise 11 Billion KRW for SW Developers
Alumni donations from the School of Computing, including Baemin and Devsisters, continue to grow Alumni from the KAIST School of Computing who are current and former developers at the leading game company Krafton, established by KAIST alumna Byung-Gyu Chang, made an agreement to help raise 11 billion KRW during a ceremony on June 4. The funds raised in the matching grant will be used to nurture software developers. Krafton Chairman Chang donated 10 billion won last January. His donation inspired other alumni working at Krafton as well as its former developers. Eleven KAIST alumni raised 5.5 billion KRW in two months and discussed the matching grant idea with Chairman Chang. The Krafton matching grant ceremony was attended by President Kwang Hyung Lee, Provost and Executive Vice President Seung Seob Lee, Vice President for Research Sang Yup Lee, Head of the School of Computing Sukyoung Ryu, Krafton Chairman Byung-gyu Chang, and KAIST alumnus from Krafton Seung-woo Shin. Other alumni donors including Krafton CEO Changhan Kim joined the ceremony online. Krafton CEO Changhan Kim said, “Just as our alma mater played an important role in growing our company, we hope that our donation could help support good developers. This will not only help our company, but advance our industry.” KAIST and Krafton also signed a business agreement to foster competitive developers. Krafton said it plans to continue giving back to society through the matching grant program. Head of the School of Computing Sukyoung Ryu thanked Chairman Chang and alumni who took part in the fund raising, saying, “To take the lead in rapidly changing computer technology, we desperately need more top students, faculty members, and facilities. We need more resources and infrastructure for interdisciplinary research.” The School of Computing has seen significant growth recently. Its number of undergraduate students has increased from 450 in 2016 to more than 900 in 2021. With this donation, the school will expand its current buildings to provide diverse educational and mentoring programs in more spacious facilities. Seung-woo Shin (Class of ’92), who joined Krafton’s matching grant, said, “I have always been thankful for the people I met and what I learned at KAIST. I was moved by the idea of giving back to the school.” Seong-jung Ryu (Class of ’97) said, “This donation reminded me of the good times I had back then. I thought it was crucial that the department’s facilities be extended, so I naturally wanted to take part.” Alumni donations, especially from the School of Computing, have also continued to grow more recently. Woowa Brothers Corp. CEO Beom-Jun Kim, the developer of the meal delivery app ‘Baemin’ donated 100 million KRW in April. Baemin became the most used app in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained, “I have been thinking about ways to give something to the next generation, rather than ‘paying back’ those who helped me in the past.” Encouraged by Baemin’s donation, alumni couple Ha-Yeon Seo and Dong-Hun Hahn from the School of Computing and eleven alumni engineers working at Devsisters Corp. also followed suit.
Natural Rainbow Colorants Microbially Produced
Integrated strategies of systems metabolic engineering and membrane engineering led to the production of natural rainbow colorants comprising seven natural colorants from bacteria for the first time A research group at KAIST has engineered bacterial strains capable of producing three carotenoids and four violacein derivatives, completing the seven colors in the rainbow spectrum. The research team integrated systems metabolic engineering and membrane engineering strategies for the production of seven natural rainbow colorants in engineered Escherichia coli strains. The strategies will be also useful for the efficient production of other industrially important natural products used in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. Colorants are widely used in our lives and are directly related to human health when we eat food additives and wear cosmetics. However, most of these colorants are made from petroleum, causing unexpected side effects and health problems. Furthermore, they raise environmental concerns such as water pollution from dyeing fabric in the textiles industry. For these reasons, the demand for the production of natural colorants using microorganisms has increased, but could not be readily realized due to the high cost and low yield of the bioprocesses. These challenges inspired the metabolic engineers at KAIST including researchers Dr. Dongsoo Yang and Dr. Seon Young Park, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The team reported the study entitled “Production of rainbow colorants by metabolically engineered Escherichia coli” in Advanced Science online on May 5. It was selected as the journal cover of the July 7 issue. This research reports for the first time the production of rainbow colorants comprising three carotenoids and four violacein derivatives from glucose or glycerol via systems metabolic engineering and membrane engineering. The research group focused on the production of hydrophobic natural colorants useful for lipophilic food and dyeing garments. First, using systems metabolic engineering, which is an integrated technology to engineer the metabolism of a microorganism, three carotenoids comprising astaxanthin (red), -carotene (orange), and zeaxanthin (yellow), and four violacein derivatives comprising proviolacein (green), prodeoxyviolacein (blue), violacein (navy), and deoxyviolacein (purple) could be produced. Thus, the production of natural colorants covering the complete rainbow spectrum was achieved. When hydrophobic colorants are produced from microorganisms, the colorants are accumulated inside the cell. As the accumulation capacity is limited, the hydrophobic colorants could not be produced with concentrations higher than the limit. In this regard, the researchers engineered the cell morphology and generated inner-membrane vesicles (spherical membranous structures) to increase the intracellular capacity for accumulating the natural colorants. To further promote production, the researchers generated outer-membrane vesicles to secrete the natural colorants, thus succeeding in efficiently producing all of seven rainbow colorants. It was even more impressive that the production of natural green and navy colorants was achieved for the first time. “The production of the seven natural rainbow colorants that can replace the current petroleum-based synthetic colorants was achieved for the first time,” said Dr. Dongsoo Yang. He explained that another important point of the research is that integrated metabolic engineering strategies developed from this study can be generally applicable for the efficient production of other natural products useful as pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals. “As maintaining good health in an aging society is becoming increasingly important, we expect that the technology and strategies developed here will play pivotal roles in producing other valuable natural products of medical or nutritional importance,” explained Distinguished Professor Lee. This work was supported by the "Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science & Technology Development (Project No. PJ01550602)" Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea. -Publication:Dongsoo Yang, Seon Young Park, and Sang Yup Lee. Production of rainbow colorants by metabolically engineered Escherichia coli. Advanced Science, 2100743. -Profile Distinguished Professor Sang Yup LeeMetabolic &Biomolecular Engineering National Research Laboratoryhttp://mbel.kaist.ac.kr Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringKAIST
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