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Faculty Highlights: Jong-In Hahm, Ph.D. (Dept. of Chemistry)

Jong-In Hahm, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at Georgetown. She received her Bachelors of Science from Seoul National University and her Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Dr. Hahm completed her Post-Doc at Harvard University.

Involvement in Research:

Currently, Dr. Hahm is researching new materials, such as nanometer-scale molecular structures, for use as advanced molecular tools to promote chemical research and to investigate a variety of biological systems. She also produces materials for screening small molecules that can be used as diverse as molecular probes to improve genotyping methods. Her latest research focuses on the synthesis and versatility of materials such as nanotubes and nanowires. In order to generate functional nanomaterials to promote their applications in basic science and engineering, she is working to develop methods for the controllable synthesis of these one-dimensional structures on different catalysts. Her research group uses a variety of polymers and biomaterials at specific sites and with a given geometry and orientation to expand the nanomaterials. Her research also focuses on the development of biomedical studies of nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes as well as metallic and semiconductor nanowires.

Inspiration:

Dr. Hahm’s first inspiration was her very first research project on Raman spectroscopy that she completed during her undergraduate study. In this project, it was found that peaks on the graphs created from the spectroscopy are representative of chemical fingerprints. She mentioned that the analyte is sometimes difficult to examine; to remedy this problem, gold nanoparticles were used to aid in the identification process. These particles can appear in many different colors, even having a red hue instead of the typical “gold” color. It should be noted that this analytical technique is used by the Smithsonian museum for art restoration. Working on this project sparked Dr. Hahm’s curiosity, leading her to create her own project. With this project, Dr. Hahm set out to answer the question of how shrinking the size of a particle can drastically affect its identity.

Reflection:

Dr. Hahm stressed the importance of being able to satisfy one’s curiosity through asking questions. She noted that even seemingly simple questions can have very complex answers, which can branch out even further to bring up new questions. Dr. Hahm also noted that engaging with other colleagues is a very rewarding experience that can allow for growth in the scientific community along with helping give back to society through innovation.

Advice for Students:

Dr. Hahm stated that being inquisitive and curious is very important to keeping oneself engaged and motivated when learning new things. In an academic context, maintaining a strong interest in active learning (as opposed to passive learning) is a major key to success in the field of scientific research.

Written by Dilan Gangopadhyay