P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Minjung Kim, 2024

PhD, Northwestern University

Minjung Kim is an immigrant from South Korea

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD in Chemistry at Northwestern University

Minjung Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea and immigrated to the United States when she was seven years old. Minjung grew a strong interest in music from a young age, performing the piano, gayageum (a traditional Korean instrument), and cello, with aspirations of becoming a professional cellist one day. However, when Minjung’s high school chemistry teacher explained why rice needs to be cooked longer at higher altitudes and derived an equation to describe it, she first realized chemistry’s fundamental connection to real-world processes. Minjung decided to channel her creativity into the sciences, to understand how the world works and invent creative solutions to societal problems.

Minjung received her bachelor’s degrees in chemical and biomolecular engineering and chemistry at Rice University. At Rice, she worked with Professor Matthew Jones in identifying and understanding the role of Au32 nanocluster species in creating uniform plasmonic nanorods, which have applications in catalysis, optics, and drug delivery. Minjung also spearheaded a project to destroy “forever chemicals” in water, under the mentorship of Professor Michael Wong. Drawing from her experiences in social justice, she led her design team to focus on sustainability and accessibility of their reactor system, which successfully resulted in a first-place finish at an environmental design competition. At the end of her time at Rice University, Minjung was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP), Distinction in Research and Creative Work, and graduated with honors. 

Minjung is currently pursuing her PhD in chemistry at Northwestern University under the mentorship of Professors Omar Farha and Dayne Swearer. She is primarily interested in the interactions of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and metal nanoparticles. When these components are used together, they create a carbon dioxide capturing system that can be powered by visible light, such as sunlight. This system can be expanded to other applications as well, from water harvesting to pollutant decontamination. As the world battles the climate crisis, Minjung hopes her fundamental studies in light-matter interactions of these novel nanomaterials catalyze the implementation and expansion of direct air capture and environmental remediation. 

  • BA Chemistry | Rice University 2022
  • BS Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering | Rice University 2022
  • PhD Chemistry | Northwestern University
  • Graduate Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation
  • Ann and Joe Hightower Superior Award in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Distinction in Research and Creative Work, Rice University
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