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Globally renowned stained-glass artist Fr. En Joon Kim appointed as a distinguished invited professor in the KAIST Department of Industrial Design
World-renowned master of stained-glass Father En Joong Kim was appointed to a two-year distinguished invited professorship in the KAIST Department of Industrial Design starting August 1, 2022 - Fr. Kim will share his life, spirit, and artistic capabilities with the members of KAIST through special lectures for undergraduate and graduate students, and through a stained-glass piece he will work on and donate to the KAIST Academic and Cultural Complex - The 53-piece work of art will provide KAIST with fresh inspiration and add to its dynamic atmosphere KAIST appointed the world-renowned stained-glass artist and priest Fr. En Joong Kim of the Dominican Order as a distinguished invited professor in the KAIST Department of Industrial Design. His term starts from August 1 of this year and ends on July 31, 2024. The appointment aims to share the life, spirit, and artistic capabilities of Fr. Kim, who is internationally recognized for his creative work. The purpose of the appointment is not only to provide professional advice on lighting color and space, which are core contents of industrial design courses, but also to bring new inspiration to KAIST community. Fr. Kim, who studied in the College of Fine Arts at Seoul National University, won the Korean Art Award in 1965, and later studied at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and the Catholic University of Paris. Joining the Dominican Order in France in 1974, he started his career as both a priest and an artist, and continued his artistic activities via 200 exhibitions around the world and by working on the stained-glass windows of 50 European churches. In recognition of the artistic merit of combining colorful tones with the beauty of blank spaces, a distinctive characteristic of Asian art, and Fr. Kim’s contributions to establishing such combinations, Passage Kim En Joong, an art gallery, was founded in Ambert, France in 2019, and for his artwork installed all over France, he was presented with the insignia of Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 2010. Following the appointment, the KAIST Department of Industrial Design is preparing a special seminar lecture by Fr. Kim under the title “Search the Future”. Fr. Kim will share his experience and philosophy for pursuing aesthetic values and efforts. In addition, the department plans to set up a special studio for Fr. Kim to both work and interact with students, encouraging them to naturally communicate and share ideas together. One of Fr. Kim's art piece being installed at the main administration building at KAIST. In a studio at the KAIST Academic Cultural Complex (ACC), Fr. Kim is currently working on his 53-piece stained-glass project that, when finished, will be added to the ACC. KAISTians will be able to enjoy a master’s art on a daily basis as the 53 sheets of glasses combine to form one magnificent piece. Fr. Kim said, “I am very happy to be a distinguished invited professor at KAIST, where excellent scientists are at work. It is my wish and prayer that my presence here may comfort the students’ hearts with artwork and art philosophy that carries sensitivity and sincerity, and that they may garner richer experiences.” KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee said, “The purpose of research and art are similar in that they pioneer through endless contemplations and attempts. The art piece to be installed at ACC, which will combine 53 pieces of stained glass, resembles our school, where our members each with their own distinctive colors and textures come together create a harmonious new form known as KAIST.” He added, “I hope that the artistic spirit of Fr. Kim, a world-class master, will be a beacon that would bring a new type of stimulation and ease here at KAIST” KAIST also appointed world-renowned soprano Sumi Jo as a distinguished invited professor in the Graduate School of Culture Technology in October 2021, and SM Entertainment’s executive producer Soo-man Lee as a distinguished invited professor in the School of Computing in March 2022. KAIST continues to expand and incorporate science and technology into the fields of art and culture, and to establish itself as a place for joint research and creative endeavors.
Interactive Map of Metabolical Synthesis of Chemicals
An interactive map that compiled the chemicals produced by biological, chemical and combined reactions has been distributed on the web - A team led by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, organized and distributed an all-inclusive listing of chemical substances that can be synthesized using microorganisms - It is expected to be used by researchers around the world as it enables easy assessment of the synthetic pathway through the web. A research team comprised of Woo Dae Jang, Gi Bae Kim, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST reported an interactive metabolic map of bio-based chemicals. Their research paper “An interactive metabolic map of bio-based chemicals” was published online in Trends in Biotechnology on August 10, 2022. As a response to rapid climate change and environmental pollution, research on the production of petrochemical products using microorganisms is receiving attention as a sustainable alternative to existing methods of productions. In order to synthesize various chemical substances, materials, and fuel using microorganisms, it is necessary to first construct the biosynthetic pathway toward desired product by exploration and discovery and introduce them into microorganisms. In addition, in order to efficiently synthesize various chemical substances, it is sometimes necessary to employ chemical methods along with bioengineering methods using microorganisms at the same time. For the production of non-native chemicals, novel pathways are designed by recruiting enzymes from heterologous sources or employing enzymes designed though rational engineering, directed evolution, or ab initio design. The research team had completed a map of chemicals which compiled all available pathways of biological and/or chemical reactions that lead to the production of various bio-based chemicals back in 2019 and published the map in Nature Catalysis. The map was distributed in the form of a poster to industries and academia so that the synthesis paths of bio-based chemicals could be checked at a glance. The research team has expanded the bio-based chemicals map this time in the form of an interactive map on the web so that anyone with internet access can quickly explore efficient paths to synthesize desired products. The web-based map provides interactive visual tools to allow interactive visualization, exploration, and analysis of complex networks of biological and/or chemical reactions toward the desired products. In addition, the reported paper also discusses the production of natural compounds that are used for diverse purposes such as food and medicine, which will help designing novel pathways through similar approaches or by exploiting the promiscuity of enzymes described in the map. The published bio-based chemicals map is also available at http://systemsbiotech.co.kr. The co-first authors, Dr. Woo Dae Jang and Ph.D. student Gi Bae Kim, said, “We conducted this study to address the demand for updating the previously distributed chemicals map and enhancing its versatility.” “The map is expected to be utilized in a variety of research and in efforts to set strategies and prospects for chemical production incorporating bio and chemical methods that are detailed in the map.” Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee said, “The interactive bio-based chemicals map is expected to help design and optimization of the metabolic pathways for the biosynthesis of target chemicals together with the strategies of chemical conversions, serving as a blueprint for developing further ideas on the production of desired chemicals through biological and/or chemical reactions.” The interactive metabolic map of bio-based chemicals.
Metabolically Engineered Bacterium Produces Lutein
A research group at KAIST has engineered a bacterial strain capable of producing lutein. The research team applied systems metabolic engineering strategies, including substrate channeling and electron channeling, to enhance the production of lutein in an engineered Escherichia coli strain. The strategies will be also useful for the efficient production of other industrially important natural products used in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. Figure: Systems metabolic engineering was employed to construct and optimize the metabolic pathways for lutein production, and substrate channeling and electron channeling strategies were additionally employed to increase the production of the lutein with high productivity. Lutein is classified as a xanthophyll chemical that is abundant in egg yolk, fruits, and vegetables. It protects the eye from oxidative damage from radiation and reduces the risk of eye diseases including macular degeneration and cataracts. Commercialized products featuring lutein are derived from the extracts of the marigold flower, which is known to harbor abundant amounts of lutein. However, the drawback of lutein production from nature is that it takes a long time to grow and harvest marigold flowers. Furthermore, it requires additional physical and chemical-based extractions with a low yield, which makes it economically unfeasible in terms of productivity. The high cost and low yield of these bioprocesses has made it difficult to readily meet the demand for lutein. These challenges inspired the metabolic engineers at KAIST, including researchers Dr. Seon Young Park, Ph.D. Candidate Hyunmin Eun, and Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The team’s study entitled “Metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli with electron channeling for the production of natural products” was published in Nature Catalysis on August 5, 2022. This research details the ability to produce lutein from E. coli with a high yield using a cheap carbon source, glycerol, via systems metabolic engineering. The research group focused on solving the bottlenecks of the biosynthetic pathway for lutein production constructed within an individual cell. First, using systems metabolic engineering, which is an integrated technology to engineer the metabolism of a microorganism, lutein was produced when the lutein biosynthesis pathway was introduced, albeit in very small amounts. To improve the productivity of lutein production, the bottleneck enzymes within the metabolic pathway were first identified. It turned out that metabolic reactions that involve a promiscuous enzyme, an enzyme that is involved in two or more metabolic reactions, and electron-requiring cytochrome P450 enzymes are the main bottleneck steps of the pathway inhibiting lutein biosynthesis. To overcome these challenges, substrate channeling, a strategy to artificially recruit enzymes in physical proximity within the cell in order to increase the local concentrations of substrates that can be converted into products, was employed to channel more metabolic flux towards the target chemical while reducing the formation of unwanted byproducts. Furthermore, electron channeling, a strategy similar to substrate channeling but differing in terms of increasing the local concentrations of electrons required for oxidoreduction reactions mediated by P450 and its reductase partners, was applied to further streamline the metabolic flux towards lutein biosynthesis, which led to the highest titer of lutein production achieved in a bacterial host ever reported. The same electron channeling strategy was successfully applied for the production of other natural products including nootkatone and apigenin in E. coli, showcasing the general applicability of the strategy in the research field. “It is expected that this microbial cell factory-based production of lutein will be able to replace the current plant extraction-based process,” said Dr. Seon Young Park, the first author of the paper. She 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 Sang Yup Lee. This work was supported by the Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science & Technology Development funded by the Rural Development Administration of Korea, with further support from the Development of Next-generation Biorefinery Platform Technologies for Leading Bio-based Chemicals Industry Project and by the Development of Platform Technologies of Microbial Cell Factories for the Next-generation Biorefineries Project of the National Research Foundation funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT of Korea.
PICASSO Technique Drives Biological Molecules into Technicolor
The new imaging approach brings current imaging colors from four to more than 15 for mapping overlapping proteins Pablo Picasso’s surreal cubist artistic style shifted common features into unrecognizable scenes, but a new imaging approach bearing his namesake may elucidate the most complicated subject: the brain. Employing artificial intelligence to clarify spectral color blending of tiny molecules used to stain specific proteins and other items of research interest, the PICASSO technique, allows researchers to use more than 15 colors to image and parse our overlapping proteins. The PICASSO developers, based in Korea, published their approach on May 5 in Nature Communications. Fluorophores — the staining molecules — emit specific colors when excited by a light, but if more than four fluorophores are used, their emitted colors overlap and blend. Researchers previously developed techniques to correct this spectral overlap by precisely defining the matrix of mixed and unmixed images. This measurement depends on reference spectra, found by identifying clear images of only one fluorophore-stained specimen or of multiple, identically prepared specimens that only contain a single fluorophore each. “Such reference spectra measurement could be complicated to perform in highly heterogeneous specimens, such as the brain, due to the highly varied emission spectra of fluorophores depending on the subregions from which the spectra were measured,” said co-corresponding author Young-Gyu Yoon, professor in the School of Electrical Engineering at KAIST. He explained that the subregions would each need their own spectra reference measurements, making for an inefficient, time-consuming process. “To address this problem, we developed an approach that does not require reference spectra measurements.” The approach is the “Process of ultra-multiplexed Imaging of biomolecules viA the unmixing of the Signals of Spectrally Overlapping fluorophores,” also known as PICASSO. Ultra-multiplexed imaging refers to visualizing the numerous individual components of a unit. Like a cinema multiplex in which each theater plays a different movie, each protein in a cell has a different role. By staining with fluorophores, researchers can begin to understand those roles. “We devised a strategy based on information theory; unmixing is performed by iteratively minimizing the mutual information between mixed images,” said co-corresponding author Jae-Byum Chang, professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, KAIST. “This allows us to get away with the assumption that the spatial distribution of different proteins is mutually exclusive and enables accurate information unmixing.” To demonstrate PICASSO’s capabilities, the researchers applied the technique to imaging a mouse brain. With a single round of staining, they performed 15-color multiplexed imaging of a mouse brain. Although small, mouse brains are still complex, multifaceted organs that can take significant resources to map. According to the researchers, PICASSO can improve the capabilities of other imaging techniques and allow for the use of even more fluorophore colors. Using one such imaging technique in combination with PICASSO, the team achieved 45-color multiplexed imaging of the mouse brain in only three staining and imaging cycles, according to Yoon. “PICASSO is a versatile tool for the multiplexed biomolecule imaging of cultured cells, tissue slices and clinical specimens,” Chang said. “We anticipate that PICASSO will be useful for a broad range of applications for which biomolecules’ spatial information is important. One such application the tool would be useful for is revealing the cellular heterogeneities of tumor microenvironments, especially the heterogeneous populations of immune cells, which are closely related to cancer prognoses and the efficacy of cancer therapies.” The Samsung Research Funding & Incubation Center for Future Technology supported this work. Spectral imaging was performed at the Korea Basic Science Institute Western Seoul Center. -PublicationJunyoung Seo, Yeonbo Sim, Jeewon Kim, Hyunwoo Kim, In Cho, Hoyeon Nam, Yong-Gyu Yoon, Jae-Byum Chang, “PICASSO allows ultra-multiplexed fluorescence imaging of spatiallyoverlapping proteins without reference spectra measurements,” May 5, Nature Communications (doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-30168-z) -ProfileProfessor Jae-Byum ChangDepartment of Materials Science and EngineeringCollege of EngineeringKAIST Professor Young-Gyu YoonSchool of Electrical EngineeringCollege of EngineeringKAIST
2022 KAIST Research Day Recognizes 10 Outstanding Researches
On May 31, the 2022 KAIST Research Day was held at the Jeongo Geun-mo Conference Hall at KAIST’s main campus. Since 2016, Research Day has been a yearly festival for researchers at KAIST. By introducing major research achievements and providing opportunities for information exchanges in R&D, it aims to create an atmosphere for mutual cooperation and communication amongst researchers, thereby vitalizing interdisciplinary research. At this year’s event, 10 faculty members and their representative research achievements were rewarded. As the winner of the Grand Prize for Research, Professor Il-Doo Kim (Department of Materials Science and Engineering) gave a lecture on his topic, “Ultrasensitive flexible chemical sensor”. With rising attention being given to environmental safety and healthcare, the importance of mobile sensors for trace amounts of molecules that can quickly raise hazard signals and allow early diagnosis from breath analysis have been brought to light. The lecture will break down ultrasensitive chemical sensor development cases, and introduced how gas sensor technologies developed at KAIST in particular are being applied at semiconductor and display fabrication plants for environmental and safety analyses and hazard prevention. Professor Il-Doo Kim is a recognized researcher for his inventive achievements in the fields of respiratory gas sensor technology for early disease monitoring, and ordered nanofiber membranes for antiviral and fine dust filters. Professor Kim has so far published 343 international research papers, received 56 journal covers, been awarded 230 domestic and international patents, and completed 12 technology transfers. He has also received a presidential award on the 51st invention day in 2016, Scientist of the Year Award selected by reporters in 2019, and has been named a fellow in the engineering division of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology in 2022. Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho at the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering and Professor Doh Chang Lee at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering were each awarded the Research Award, and Professor Dongsoo Han at the School of Computing received the Innovation Award. Professors Buhm Soon Park at the Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy, Changick Kim at the School of Electrical Engineering and Hyun Jung Cho at the School of Digital Humanities and Computational Social Sciences received the Interdisciplinary Research Award as a team. The passion and experiences of the awardees are to be introduced to undergraduate and graduate students as well as fellow researchers through a pre-recorded video lecture, while the lecture of the winner of the grand prize will be delivered on site. Meanwhile, the top ten R&D achievements of KAIST selected excellent research outcomes from the natural and biological sciences including “Polariton-based PT symmetry laser that turns loss into gain” (Professor Yong-Hoon Cho at the Department of Physics), “Solution to the Riemann Problem including weak shock waves in 1-dimensional space” (Professor Moon-Jin Kang at the Department of Mathematical Sciences), and “Characterization of immune reaction in COVID-19 patients” (Professor Eui-Cheol Shin at the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering.) Awardees from the engineering field included “Fluid surface stabilization technology using plasma jet” (Professor Wonho Choe at the Department of Nuclear and Quantum Engineering, “Visual recognition technology using event-based cameras” (Professor Kuk-Jin Yoon at theDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, “Artificial sensory system development through neural signal mimicry” (Professor Seongjun Park at the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering, “Mott transition material-based ultrahigh speed, low-power, and deformation-resistant true random number generator” (Professor Kyung Min Kim at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, “Investment service design based on Aline: ESG” (Professor Sangsu Lee at the Department of Industrial Design), “Structural color printing technology without chemical colorings” (Professor Shin-Hyun Kim at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering), and “Differentiable transient optical transfer simulation” (Professor Minhyuk Kim at the School of Computing) To encourage the participation of members of KAIST, all parts of the ceremony will be broadcast live through YouTube in both English and Korean.” He added, “Offline audiences will congratulate the awardees at Fusion Hall in the KI Building and gain research ideas.”
Sumi Jo Performing Arts Research Center Opens
Distinguished visiting scholar soprano Sumi Jo gave a special lecture on May 13 at the KAIST auditorium. During the lecture, she talked about new technologies that will be introduced for future performing art stages while sharing some of the challenges she experienced before reaching to the stardom of the world stage. She also joined the KAIST student choral club ‘Chorus’ to perform the KAIST school song. Professor Jo also opened the Sumi Jo Performing Arts Research Center on the same day along with President Kwang Hyung Lee and faculty members from the Graduate School of Culture Technology. The center will conduct AI and metaverse-based performing art technologies such as performer modeling via AI playing and motion creation, interactions between virtual and human players via sound analysis and motion recognition, as well as virtual stage and performing center modeling. The center will also carry out extensive stage production research applied to media convergence technologies. Professor Juhan Nam, who heads the research center, said that the center is seeking collaborations with other universities such as Seoul National University and the Korea National University of Arts as well as top performing artists at home and abroad. He looks forward to the center growing into a collaborative center for future performing arts. Professor Jo added that she will spare no effort to offer her experience and advice for the center’s future-forward performing arts research projects.
Professor Hyo-Sang Shin at Cranfield University Named the 18th Jeong Hun Cho Awardee
Professor Hyo-Sang Shin at Cranfield University in the UK was named the 18th Jeong Hun Cho Award recipient. PhD candidate Kyu-Sob Kim from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at KAIST, Master’s candidate from Korea University Kon-Hee Chang, Jae-Woo Chang from Kongju National University High School were also selected. Professor Shin, a PhD graduate from the KAIST Department of Aerospace Engineering in 2016 works at Cranfield University. Professor Shin, whose main research focus covers guidance, navigation, and control, conducts research on information-based control. He has published 66 articles in SCI journals and presented approximately 70 papers at academic conference with more than 12 patent registrations. He is known for his expertise in areas related to unmanned aerospace systems and urban aero traffic automation. Professor Shin is participating in various aerospace engineering development projects run by the UK government. The award recognizes promising young scientists who have made significant achievements in the field of aerospace engineering in honor of Jeong Hun Cho, the former PhD candidate in KAIST’s Department of Aerospace Engineering. Cho died in a lab accident in May 2003. Cho’s family endowed the award and scholarship to honor him and a recipient from each of his three alma maters (Kongju National High School, Korea University, and KAIST) are selected every year. Professor Shin was awarded 25 million KRW in prize money. KAIST student Kim and Korea University student Chang received four million KRW while Kongju National University High School student Chang received three million KRW.
Quantum Technology: the Next Game Changer?
The 6th KAIST Global Strategy Institute Forum explores how quantum technology has evolved into a new growth engine for the future The participants of the 6th KAIST Global Strategy Institute (GSI) Forum on April 20 agreed that the emerging technology of quantum computing will be a game changer of the future. As KAIST President Kwang Hyung Lee said in his opening remarks, the future is quantum and that future is rapidly approaching. Keynote speakers and panelists presented their insights on the disruptive innovations we are already experiencing. The three keynote speakers included Dr. Jerry M. Chow, IBM fellow and director of quantum infrastructure, Professor John Preskill from Caltech, and Professor Jungsang Kim from Duke University. They discussed the academic impact and industrial applications of quantum technology, and its prospects for the future. Dr. Chow leads IBM Quantum’s hardware system development efforts, focusing on research and system deployment. Professor Preskill is one of the leading quantum information science and quantum computation scholars. He coined the term “quantum supremacy.” Professor Kim is the co-founder and CTO of IonQ Inc., which develops general-purpose trapped ion quantum computers and software to generate, optimize, and execute quantum circuits. Two leading quantum scholars from KAIST, Professor June-Koo Kevin Rhee and Professor Youngik Sohn, and Professor Andreas Heinrich from the IBS Center for Quantum Nanoscience also participated in the forum as panelists. Professor Rhee is the founder of the nation’s first quantum computing software company and leads the AI Quantum Computing IT Research Center at KAIST. During the panel session, Professor Rhee said that although it is undeniable the quantum computing will be a game changer, there are several challenges. For instance, the first actual quantum computer is NISQ (Noisy intermediate-scale quantum era), which is still incomplete. However, it is expected to outperform a supercomputer. Until then, it is important to advance the accuracy of quantum computation in order to offer super computation speeds. Professor Sohn, who worked at PsiQuantum, detailed how quantum computers will affect our society. He said that PsiQuantum is developing silicon photonics that will control photons. We can’t begin to imagine how silicon photonics will transform our society. Things will change slowly but the scale would be massive. The keynote speakers presented how quantum cryptography communications and its sensing technology will serve as disruptive innovations. Dr. Chow stressed that to realize the potential growth and innovation, additional R&D is needed. More research groups and scholars should be nurtured. Only then will the rich R&D resources be able to create breakthroughs in quantum-related industries. Lastly, the commercialization of quantum computing must be advanced, which will enable the provision of diverse services. In addition, more technological and industrial infrastructure must be built to better accommodate quantum computing. Professor Preskill believes that quantum computing will benefit humanity. He cited two basic reasons for his optimistic prediction: quantum complexity and quantum error corrections. He explained why quantum computing is so powerful: quantum computer can easily solve the problems classically considered difficult, such as factorization. In addition, quantum computer has the potential to efficiently simulate all of the physical processes taking place in nature. Despite such dramatic advantages, why does it seem so difficult? Professor Preskill believes this is because we want qubits (quantum bits or ‘qubits’ are the basic unit of quantum information) to interact very strongly with each other. Because computations can fail, we don’t want qubits to interact with the environment unless we can control and predict them. As for quantum computing in the NISQ era, he said that NISQ will be an exciting tool for exploring physics. Professor Preskill does not believe that NISQ will change the world alone, rather it is a step forward toward more powerful quantum technologies in the future. He added that a potentially transformable, scalable quantum computer could still be decades away. Professor Preskill said that a large number of qubits, higher accuracy, and better quality will require a significant investment. He said if we expand with better ideas, we can make a better system. In the longer term, quantum technology will bring significant benefits to the technological sectors and society in the fields of materials, physics, chemistry, and energy production. Professor Kim from Duke University presented on the practical applications of quantum computing, especially in the startup environment. He said that although there is no right answer for the early applications of quantum computing, developing new approaches to solve difficult problems and raising the accessibility of the technology will be important for ensuring the growth of technology-based startups.
A Mathematical Model Shows High Viral Transmissions Reduce the Progression Rates for Severe Covid-19
The model suggests a clue as to when a pandemic will turn into an endemic A mathematical model demonstrated that high transmission rates among highly vaccinated populations of COVID-19 ultimately reduce the numbers of severe cases. This model suggests a clue as to when this pandemic will turn into an endemic. With the future of the pandemic remaining uncertain, a research team of mathematicians and medical scientists analyzed a mathematical model that may predict how the changing transmission rate of COVID-19 would affect the settlement process of the virus as a mild respiratory virus. The team led by Professor Jae Kyoung Kim from the Department of Mathematical Science and Professor Eui-Cheol Shin from the Graduate School of Medical Science and Engineering used a new approach by dividing the human immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 into a shorter-term neutralizing antibody response and a longer-term T-cell immune response, and applying them each to a mathematical model. Additionally, the analysis was based on the fact that although breakthrough infection may occur frequently, the immune response of the patient will be boosted after recovery from each breakthrough infection. The results showed that in an environment with a high vaccination rate, although COVID-19 cases may rise temporarily when the transmission rate increases, the ratio of critical cases would ultimately decline, thereby decreasing the total number of critical cases and in fact settling COVID-19 as a mild respiratory disease more quickly. Conditions in which the number of cases may spike include relaxing social distancing measures or the rise of variants with higher transmission rates like the Omicron variant. This research did not take the less virulent characteristic of the Omicron variant into account but focused on the results of its high transmission rate, thereby predicting what may happen in the process of the endemic transition of COVID-19. The research team pointed out the limitations of their mathematical model, such as the lack of consideration for age or patients with underlying diseases, and explained that the results of this study must be applied with care when compared against high-risk groups. Additionally, as medical systems may collapse when the number of cases rises sharply, this study must be interpreted with prudence and applied accordingly. The research team therefore emphasized that for policies that encourage a step-wise return to normality to succeed, the sustainable maintenance of public health systems is indispensable. Professor Kim said, “We have drawn a counter-intuitive conclusion amid the unpredictable pandemic through an adequate mathematical model,” asserting the importance of applying mathematical models to medical research. Professor Shin said, “Although the Omicron variant has become the dominant strain and the number of cases is rising rapidly in South Korea, it is important to use scientific approaches to predict the future and apply them to policies rather than fearing the current situation.” The results of the research were published on medRxiv.org on February 11, under the title “Increasing viral transmission paradoxically reduces progression rates to severe COVID-19 during endemic transition.” This research was funded by the Institute of Basic Science, the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, and the National Research Foundation of Korea. -PublicationHyukpyo Hong, Ji Yun Noh, Hyojung Lee, Sunhwa Choi, Boseung Choi, Jae Kyung Kim, Eui-Cheol Shin, “Increasing viral transmission paradoxically reduces progression rates to severe COVID-19 during endemic transition,” medRxiv, February 9, 2022 (doi.org/10.1101/2022.02.09.22270633) -ProfileProfessor Jae Kyung KimDepartment of Mathematical SciencesKAIST Professor Eui-Cheol ShinGraduate School of Medical Science and EngineeringKAIST
Five Projects Ranked in the Top 100 for National R&D Excellence
Five KAIST research projects were selected as the 2021 Top 100 for National R&D Excellence by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Institute of Science & Technology Evaluation and Planning. The five projects are:-The development of E. coli that proliferates with only formic acid and carbon dioxide by Distinguished Professor Sang Yup Lee from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering -An original reverse aging technology that restores an old human skin cell into a younger one by Professor Kwang-Hyun Cho from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering-The development of next-generation high-efficiency perovskite-silicon tandem solar cells by Professor Byungha Shin from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering-Research on the effects of ultrafine dust in the atmosphere has on energy consumption by Professor Jiyong Eom from the School of Business and Technology Management-Research on a molecular trigger that controls the phase transformation of bio materials by Professor Myungchul Kim from the Department of Bio and Brain Engineering Started in 2006, an Evaluation Committee composed of experts in industries, universities, and research institutes has made the preliminary selections of the most outstanding research projects based on their significance as a scientific and technological development and their socioeconomic effects. The finalists went through an open public evaluation. The final 100 studies are from six fields: 18 from mechanics & materials, 26 from biology & marine sciences, 19 from ICT & electronics, 10 from interdisciplinary research, and nine from natural science and infrastructure. The selected 100 studies will receive a certificate and an award plaque from the minister of MSIT as well as additional points for business and institutional evaluations according to appropriate regulations, and the selected researchers will be strongly recommended as candidates for national meritorious awards. In particular, to help the 100 selected research projects become more accessible for the general public, their main contents will be provided in a free e-book ‘The Top 100 for National R&D Excellence of 2021’ that will be available from online booksellers.
Thermal Superconductor Lab Becomes the 7th Cross-Generation Collaborative Lab
The Thermal Superconductor Lab led by Senior Professor Sung Jin Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering will team up with Junior Professor Youngsuk Nam to develop next-generation superconductors. The two professor team was selected as the 7th Cross-Generation Collaborative Lab last week and will sustain the academic legacy of Professor Kim’s three decades of research on superconductors. The team will continue to develop thin, next-generation superconductors that carry super thermal conductivity using phase transition control technology and thin film packaging. Thin-filmed, next-generation superconductors can be used in various high-temperature flexible electronic devices. The superconductors built inside of the semiconductor device packages will also be used for managing the low-powered but high-performance temperatures of semiconductor and electronic equipment. Professor Kim said, “I am very pleased that my research, know-how, and knowledge from over 30 years of work will continue through the Cross-Generation Collaborative Lab system with Professor Nam. We will spare no effort to advance superconductor technology and play a part in KAIST leading global technology fields.” Junior Professor Nam also stressed that the team is excited to continue its research on crucial technology for managing the temperatures of semiconductors and other electronic equipment. KAIST started this innovative research system in 2018, and in 2021 it established the steering committee to select new labs based on: originality, differentiation, and excellence; academic, social, economic impact; the urgency of cross-generation research; the senior professor’s academic excellence and international reputation; and the senior professor’s research vision. Selected labs receive 500 million KRW in research funding over five years.
AI Light-Field Camera Reads 3D Facial Expressions
Machine-learned, light-field camera reads facial expressions from high-contrast illumination invariant 3D facial images A joint research team led by Professors Ki-Hun Jeong and Doheon Lee from the KAIST Department of Bio and Brain Engineering reported the development of a technique for facial expression detection by merging near-infrared light-field camera techniques with artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Unlike a conventional camera, the light-field camera contains micro-lens arrays in front of the image sensor, which makes the camera small enough to fit into a smart phone, while allowing it to acquire the spatial and directional information of the light with a single shot. The technique has received attention as it can reconstruct images in a variety of ways including multi-views, refocusing, and 3D image acquisition, giving rise to many potential applications. However, the optical crosstalk between shadows caused by external light sources in the environment and the micro-lens has limited existing light-field cameras from being able to provide accurate image contrast and 3D reconstruction. The joint research team applied a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) in the near-IR range to stabilize the accuracy of 3D image reconstruction that previously depended on environmental light. When an external light source is shone on a face at 0-, 30-, and 60-degree angles, the light field camera reduces 54% of image reconstruction errors. Additionally, by inserting a light-absorbing layer for visible and near-IR wavelengths between the micro-lens arrays, the team could minimize optical crosstalk while increasing the image contrast by 2.1 times. Through this technique, the team could overcome the limitations of existing light-field cameras and was able to develop their NIR-based light-field camera (NIR-LFC), optimized for the 3D image reconstruction of facial expressions. Using the NIR-LFC, the team acquired high-quality 3D reconstruction images of facial expressions expressing various emotions regardless of the lighting conditions of the surrounding environment. The facial expressions in the acquired 3D images were distinguished through machine learning with an average of 85% accuracy – a statistically significant figure compared to when 2D images were used. Furthermore, by calculating the interdependency of distance information that varies with facial expression in 3D images, the team could identify the information a light-field camera utilizes to distinguish human expressions. Professor Ki-Hun Jeong said, “The sub-miniature light-field camera developed by the research team has the potential to become the new platform to quantitatively analyze the facial expressions and emotions of humans.” To highlight the significance of this research, he added, “It could be applied in various fields including mobile healthcare, field diagnosis, social cognition, and human-machine interactions.” This research was published in Advanced Intelligent Systems online on December 16, under the title, “Machine-Learned Light-field Camera that Reads Facial Expression from High-Contrast and Illumination Invariant 3D Facial Images.” This research was funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. -Publication“Machine-learned light-field camera that reads fascial expression from high-contrast and illumination invariant 3D facial images,” Sang-In Bae, Sangyeon Lee, Jae-Myeong Kwon, Hyun-Kyung Kim. Kyung-Won Jang, Doheon Lee, Ki-Hun Jeong, Advanced Intelligent Systems, December 16, 2021 (doi.org/10.1002/aisy.202100182) ProfileProfessor Ki-Hun JeongBiophotonic LaboratoryDepartment of Bio and Brain EngineeringKAIST Professor Doheon LeeDepartment of Bio and Brain EngineeringKAIST
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