Associate Professor Mee-Hae Kim, Graduate School of Engineering
Dr. Mee-Hae Kim
Department of Biotechnology, Graduate School of Engineering
"Striving for Excellence: From Cell Culture to Cultural Diversity and Beyond"
About Dr. Kim
Dr. Mee-Hae Kim is an Associate Professor at the Department of Biotechnology in Osaka University’s Graduate School of Engineering. She came to Japan in 2002 as a graduate student at the Department of Biotechnology, Osaka University after finishing her master’s degree in South Korea. She obtained her doctoral degree from Osaka University in 2007 and continued her research as a postdoctoral researcher there. In 2010, she was appointed as an assistant professor at the Department of Biotechnology and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2016 as the first international researcher in the department.
Perhaps It Was Destiny: Exploring Cell Fate and Behavior
Dr.Kim’s research focuses on developing novel cell culturing strategies for enhancing stem cell-based research and therapy. She is beginning to identify the spatiotemporal characteristics of behavioral variations related to key fluctuating sources in stem cell culture and address possible mechanisms whereby homologous or heterologous cell behavior with profound physiological effects on the cells can bring about this result. Through such efforts, culture methods for tissue reconstruction using human-cultured cells have been established and production processes have been developed; in particular, Dr. Kim’s research has led to the proposal of development of culture technology for regulating cell fate determination. This means that the mechanism of cell behavior which decides cell fate has been clarified and incorporated into the design of culture processes for the purpose of control. This study will contribute to achieving a more reliable, affordable, and efficient culture system required in a wide variety of downstream applications of stem cells in the future.
How Far We’ve Come: Making Great Strides in Diversity at OU
In line with Osaka University’s globalization efforts, the Department of Biotechnology established the Frontier Biotechnology program in 2002, a five-year integrated master anddoctoral course in English intended for international students. Since 2012, all lectures and seminars have been conducted in English for all graduate students,including Japanese students. Dr. Kim said, “I was one of the first students in the program. There aren’t any big differences between student life in Korea and Japan. However, unlike my life in Korea, things weren’t as easily done by myself in Japan because of the language barrier, so I made great efforts to acquire ‘survival ability’ both in research and in life.” Dr. Kim still remembers spending lots of time memorizing Japanese conversation books.
Internationalization in education and research activities at Osaka University have accelerated considerably in the last few decades. Female researchers and international researchers constitute an increasingly relevant and important source of diversity on university campuses. Dr. Kim says, “I have met some inspiring female researchers and international researchers who are leaders in their research fields. They have come a long way in enriching scientific research, yet there is still more to be achieved. I think this is due to the lack of our understanding of inclusion and diversity.” She continues, “I was lucky enough to be surrounded by many great people who have worked with and supported me over the last 10 years to allow me to concentrate on my own educational and research-focused activities.” Dr. Kim adds, “Even though it is true that there are very few female international researchers in the Graduate School of Engineering, there are colleagues and friends with whom I can consult in times of difficulty, so I don’t feel isolated at the workplace.”
Finally, she said,“My time at Osaka University as a graduate student, educator, and researcher has been the most exciting and wonderful period in my life, rich with learning on both academic and personal levels, and I would recommend anyone to come and join us.”