Janice Kang '20 knew she wanted to pursue graduate school ever since coming to Hamilton, and four years of chemistry classes and a number of research opportunities — including one that led her to co-authoring a paper — only confirmed that desire. After graduation, she will begin work toward her Ph.D. in chemistry at Northwestern University.
Kang’s interest in chemistry began with a curiosity about cosmetics. She struggled with acne growing up and sought the best sunscreens for her skin. Wanting to help others find the right formulations, she pursued the study of chemistry and soon after set a goal of pursuing a career in research. “And of course, I loved chemistry enough to make that decision,” Kang said.
During her time at Hamilton, all of Kang’s professors and coursework left a positive impact, but her Biological Chemistry class with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Angela Blum stood out. Kang was captivated by the application of chemistry to health-related problems, and the class broadened her knowledge and strengthened her interest in biochemistry and biomedicine research.
Hometown: Gunsan, South Korea
High School: Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies
Since then, her research has led her to complete an independent project where she developed an in vitro method to assess potential sunscreens in plants. She was also a research assistant for Blum and Associate Professor of Chemistry Adam Van Wynsberghe.
Kang also conducted research at Syracuse University as a Biomaterials REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) fellow. Working with a group of mentors, she co-authored a paper in the journal Soft Matter, focused on “finding the critical perimeter of a cell in confluent biological tissues where the cell can freely rearrange itself with its neighboring cells.”
Currently, Kang is completing her senior thesis with Robin Kinnel, the Silas D. Childs Professor of Chemistry Emeritus, as they work on developing a potential breast cancer drug.
Kang is grateful for the mentorship Kinnel has provided. “It is such a rare opportunity to receive one-on-one training from a professor with great expertise and abundant experience. This kind of experience would be impossible to acquire at different institutions, and it is one of the things I truly appreciate from Hamilton,” Kang said.
Preparing to attend Northwestern, a place that best suited her research interests and had the best research funding, Kang is anticipating how graduate work will help her advance toward her long-term goals. “After receiving my Ph.D. in chemistry, I hope to become a principal investigator at a research institution to foster like-minded young scientists and contribute to science, the society, and humanity.”