News from Seoul – July 14, 2019: Shayla

Shayla has spent the last two weeks preparing for her midterm presentation to her group. She was collecting data to quantify the difference between her simulation methods and the simulation methods of her lab mate’s previous work. With that presentation and work complete Shayla will be continuing work in HFSS simulating inductors. This time she will create a design methodology for a T-coil Inductor that the group needs designed. Shayla is excited to be able to design her first CMOS device. Last Monday Shayla and her closest lab mates were invited to lunch by Professor Jeong. They enjoyed lunch in the Faculty Club of Seoul National University, and the sky was so clear they could see across Seoul to the mountains on the other side!

The cohort had the opportunity to visit Hyundai Robis and Samsung Innovation Museum. The group had the unique opportunity to see a crash test at Hundai Robis evaluating the airbag performance. The Samsung tour gave a great overview of the technology revolution.

Shayla explored Hapjeong, Itaewon, Hongdae  and Yeouido Hangang Park. The skyline of the city near the river reminded Shayla of the Scioto River in Columbus, OH.

News from Seoul – July 14, 2019: Bri

“Do you want more coffee?”

The time was 3AM, and Bri Robertson was with a lab mate at one of the several 24-hour cafes located by Seoul National University. It was only week two, but time had become just a concept when the reality of her project cemented in her mind. However, the laughs shared at those late-night cafes are part of the wonder that Seoul creates.

On Bri’s third weekend in Seoul, to escape from the university, she boarded two subways and a bus to arrive north of Seoul at the foot of the Bukhansan mountain range. Determined to climb the highest peak in Seoul, Bri began her ascent along the busy cemented path. Periodically, the chance to see a temple would arise, and she would break from the trampled path to behold the establishments. From the fog surrounding the temples, cats glared as she investigated the ancient traditions of the Bukhansan temples. After a four-hour ascent, through a climb that felt much like the way Frodo and Sam appeared climbing Mount Doom, Bri arrived at Baegundae: the highest peak in Seoul. With nearly perfect air quality, she could vaguely see the dark storm clouds that hovered over the covert mountains of North Korea.

This began her “Bilbo Baggins”-like quest to conquer the peaks of South Korea, searching for the adventure that lies outside of the mission she is on in the lab. With a fresh determination, Bri spent the following week tirelessly working on the code, successfully completing my first model of the data, which brought about a change in lab attitude as her fellow lab mates started to ask if she could help model their data as well. The lines of code began to read like Iambic Pentameter, and Bri slowly immersed herself in a machine world in which she never anticipated to feel welcomed.

News from Seoul – July 12, 2019: Alejandro

Research Process 

Finally having completed the required textbook reading and exercises, Alejandro moved on the next stage of his internship. He was introduced to a circuit modeling and simulation program called Cadence Virtuoso, which he would use to modify several components of a neural stimulation circuit. Generally, he changed width values of certain transistors and resistance values of certain resistors, with the end goal being to produce a biphasic pulse (positive and negative values) with an amplitude of about 1 mA. In practice, this pulse would be the stimulation current that would flow into the neurons at the stimulation points of the previously designed electrodes. By the end of the week, Alejandro was able to produce the desired waveform (in simulation), with an amplitude of almost exactly 1 mA and very minor noise affecting said waveform.


The beginning of Alejandro’s fourth week in Seoul was a slam dunk, as he played some evening basketball on both Monday (with his three roommates) and Tuesday (with one of his roommates and an SNU basketball club). He hadn’t played in months, so this felt great! The rest of the week was uneventful until Saturday; on Saturday, Alejandro took a trip to the Gwanghwamun area, where he started walking along the well-known Chonggyecheon Stream. He walked for a while before coming across Dongdaemun, an area that featured several shopping malls and a park area. He walked through a couple of the malls and enjoyed an iced latte before heading out, towards yet another, even better known shopping area: Myeongdong. He explored the streets of Myeongdong, nearly buying some dinner from a street vendor before realizing he didn’t have enough cash, and finished the night by going to the top of a shopping building adjacent to the main shopping area (to get a good view of the place). On Sunday, he explored the COEX mall in eastern Seoul with William, enjoying another iced latte before buying a new shirt at one of the stores there. The most astounding (and beautiful) part of the mall was by far the humongous library area, with bookshelves towering over Alejandro’s head; he’d never seen anything like it before! Alejandro had an enjoyable fourth week and weekend in Seoul, and is eagerly looking forward to his trip to Japan next weekend!

News from Seoul – July 6, 2019: William

Research Project Overview

William’s first Organ Chip experiment

William is working under Prof. Noo Li Jeon in the Multiscale Biomedical Engineering Laboratory (MBEL), which focuses on Organ-on-a-Chip (Organ Chip) technology. Organ Chips represent a new paradigm in cell culturing, wherein complex organ tissue is grown in microfluidic chips as opposed to simple cells in conventional petri dishes. These lab-grown Organ Chips could enable faster, cheaper, and more humane drug testing avenues by reducing the need for animal testing. Typically, the cells are delivered into the MBEL Organ Chips via a biomaterial liquid containing the cells. The liquid later turns into a gel to hold them within the chip, and provide support for the growing tissue. However, due to the quick gelling speed of the material, scientists have very little time to inject the cells into the chip, thus creating a major issue for scalable manufacturing. William’s research centers around developing a new biomaterial formulation with a longer gelation period, while still maintaining high-performance tissue growth capabilities.

Exploring Seoul

In addition to participating in exciting research, the IRiKA program has allowed William to explore the rich culture that Korea has to offer. Luckily for him, he has also had the good fortune to meet up with several a couple local guides who happen to be old friends. William’s friend Judy did a year of foreign exchange at his high school several years ago and is now a student at Sung Kyun Kwang University (SKKU), which was founded in 1398, making it the oldest university in East Asia. The campus housed several tall modern buildings with a great view of the city. However, many of the oldest and historic buildings remain preserved for people to view.

William with his friend Judy at SKKU

In addition to wandering around the campus, William got to taste “Bibimbap”, a rice dish mixed with meat and vegetables, and “Nurungji”, a Korean dish featuring rice that has become crispy from being grilled on a cast iron griddle. He was also introduced for the first time to a board game café and “Noraebang” (Korean karaoke). He highly recommends trying out both of these popular pass times if you ever visit Korea!

Left: Spicy Bibimbap (bottom) and Fish Egg Nurungji (top) for lunch
Right: William’s trying out Noraebang for the first time

Traditional Korean food with Prof. Jungil Choi

Coincidentally Dr. Jungil Choi, a former labmate from William’s research group at Northwestern, is now a professor at Kookmin University and lives very close to William’s IRiKA provided accommodations. They were able to reunite for the first time in several months and catch up over a traditional Korean meal of “Ssam”, which consists of slices of boiled pork belly wrapped with leafy vegetables of your choice.

Many new adventures are in store for the coming weeks featuring more friends, and of course more delicious food!

News from Seoul – July 5, 2019: Alejandro

Research Progress 

Having used AutoCAD to design his first electrode (a basic four-channel stimulation electrode) late in the previous week, Alejandro was given a microelectronics textbook to further acquaint himself with the concepts and mechanics at work in neural stimulation circuits. Essentially, he was told to read three chapters of the book (covering MOSFETs, source followers, and current mirrors) and complete some of the example problems in each chapter. That occupied him for most of his third week in Korea.


Alejandro’s weekday excursions fell on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (7/1, 7/2, and 7/3) this week. He visited Gangnam for the first time on Tuesday, getting a haircut and celebrating William’s birthday with a KBBQ dinner while he was there. Wednesday and Thursday consisted of two group tours, to the Hyundai MOBIS facilities and the Samsung Museum of Innovation (respectively).

Both tours are represented by pictures below and were pretty interesting, but the MOBIS tour really drew Alejandro’s attention, since there were actually products being tested and developed there rather than exhibited (as they were at the Samsung museum). On Saturday, he went rock climbing with William and his two new roommates before dinner and boba tea (his first ever!), and on Sunday, he participated in the weekly dinner and dessert with the four other IRiKA cohorts.

left: The IRiKA cohorts and Dr. Moser in front of the entrance to the Hyundai MOBIS facilities

right: Shayla, Skylar, and Alejandro discuss the tour of the Samsung Museum of Innovation that they had just experienced while Dr. Moser takes a photo and Bri talks to another group of tourists

News from Seoul – July 5, 2019: Shayla

Shayla was paired with Professor Deong-Kyu Jeong and the Inter-university Semiconductor  Research Center (ISRC),  where the main research interests include the design of high-speed I/O circuits, phase-locked loops, and memory system architecture. She will be working on created a chip inductor for clock control in one of the high-speed circuits using CAD software like HFSS.  She will also be working on test automation for a new high speed optical circuit using python to interface with the lab equipment.  Between the two projects Shayla will have the opportunity to with both chip scale electronics and chip scale optics, which are her areas of interest for her Ph.D studies.

Thus far the IRiKA program visited LG Electronics and the Korean Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH). During the visit to LG Shayla was amazed at the breadth of industries the company designed and manufactured products for. During the visit to KITECH, Shayla was excited to see a familiar technology that she worked on in her undergraduate career, ink-jet printed microelectronics !

Outside of the lab Shayla has had the chance to visit Gangnam, where she visited K-star road and COEX mall, and Gyeonbokgung Palace where she learned about the Korean language and old traditions. She also had the pleasure of trying many different authentic Korean dishes like tteokbokki, samgyupsal, and bingsu.

News from Seoul – July 3, 2019: Bri

Annyeonghaseyo!” chimed the members of Noo Li Jeon’s Laboratory the moment Bri Robertson arrived on the scene. In a weak, newly-developed Korean tongue, Bri returned the greeting. Although this small interaction of exchanged “hellos” appears insignificant, the vivacity and the overall goodwill of the lab assured Bri that she was placed in the right host lab. After a couple days of fumbling with pipettes and cell culturing, she quickly rose to a different project in the lab that suited her well—Deep Learning. With a background in OpenCV and Python, Bri wanted to work on this project, which was for the automated quantization of vascular morphology, because she wanted to dive deeper into object recognition techniques. With Deep Learning as an emerging field, she knew this was her opportunity to learn alongside her lab mates and contribute. In her eight weeks here, she hopes to develop a program that can handle microscopy images and learn to identify unique characteristics about the data. 

Along with research, Bri toured two unique sites—LG and KITECH. LG, the technology giant, brought the group into a thinktank-style room, featuring many of the soon-to-be-released technologies lining the wall. After discussing many of the problems and the methods behind solving those problems with the tour lead, Bri recognized that she wants to delve into a field that promotes innovation in a similar, open-discussion style. The other site, KITECH, which is a government laboratory, gave an intriguing introduction to how research extends past private companies and permeates the national identity of Korea as well. An example of this permeance was highlighted by one of the individuals who led the group through a photolithography lab. Rather than serving his mandatory two-year sentence in the military that all Korean men must serve, he serves his time by contributing to the R&D in which Korea is actively engaged.

Outside of the immediate field of research, Bri spends most of her hours with her lab mates, often sharing in meals and karaoke together. One of her favorite post-lunch activities is “Kai Bai Bo!” which is the Korean multiplayer game of rock, paper, scissors. The loser pays for everyone’s coffee! On her first weekend in Seoul, Bri met one of her childhood best friends in the popular district of Myeong-dong, in which the two embarked on a tourist-like adventure through the streets and up Namsan, a popular Korean mountain which is home to a 360° view of the city. In the second weekend, the group of five celebrated the start of a new week with trying sannakji: live octopus. Bri vividly remembers six tentacles attaching to the inside of her cheek!

With the past few weeks full of adventure in and outside of the lab, Bri anticipates with pleasing expectation the next weeks to come!