Globetrotting grad student finds opportunity of a lifetime at Van Andel Institute
August 6, 2019
Wooyoung Choi is both a scientist and an explorer.
He has traveled to almost every country in Asia and has recently started to explore Canada and the United States. In 2016, he took the most significant trip of his life when he traveled to Grand Rapids after finishing his master’s degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
Drawn to the Institute’s reputation for great science and intrigued by the opportunity to work with the Institute’s state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscope (cryo-EM), Choi decided to move halfway around the world to continue his studies at Van Andel Institute Graduate School.
“I thought this was a great opportunity to be a part of an institute with this incredibly advanced technology and answer really complex biological questions,” Choi said. “I wanted to use this technology to better understand the structures of proteins, which can be used to understand mechanisms in cells and help develop new treatments.”
“I am happy to be at a graduate program that provides such great opportunities and lets me seek out and achieve my goals for the future.”
Choi’s mentor at the Institute, Dr. Wei Lü, is an expert in cryo-EM and structural biology. Working and learning alongside a scientist with such a specialized focus is the opportunity of a lifetime.
“Dr. Lü is very knowledgeable and experienced with using cryo-EM, and his enthusiasm for his work is incredible,” Choi said. “Everyone here is passionate about teaching me, and everyone I work with treats me like family. Being here is life-changing.”
The close-knit bonds Choi has with his mentor and classmates helped him navigate the complexities of a new culture and new environment, and these relationships have helped him succeed in this new adventure.
“People are really kind here and care about teaching me not just science but American culture. They really want me to learn,” Choi said. “I am happy to be at a graduate program that provides such great opportunities and lets me seek out and achieve my goals for the future.”