I was born in Seoul, South Korea, but spent most of my childhood in the Pennsylvania countryside after my family emigrated to the United States.  I am a first-generation college student and attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA on full financial aid and scholarships.  I was one of those kids who had no idea what to study in college until I stumbled on to a research project that examined the cell cycle in brewer's yeast.  When I saw that replacing a mutant yeast gene with a healthy human gene could rescue cell division deficits, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  I graduated from Dickinson in 2001 with a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.  After graduation, I moved to Connecticut, where I worked as a Research Associate at a biotech company.  Here, I helped create methods to modify the yeast and mouse genomes for the purposes of drug discovery.  After two years of gloomy New England weather, I headed south to attend graduate school at Duke University in Durham, NC where I completed my Ph.D. in pharmacology in 2009.  My Ph.D. work examined growth factor signaling in the developing brain, and I completed this work with Michael Ehlers, who is currently the Head of Research and Development at Biogen, Inc.  I then moved a few miles down Tobacco Road and became a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  I began my time in Chapel Hill in the laboratory of Klaus Hahn, where I learned the basics of protein engineering and design.  I then applied these methods to uncover how disease-linked mutations impact UBE3A function during brain development.  This work was completed with Mark Zylka, who is currently the Director of Neuroscience at UNC.  I joined the faculty of the Department of Neuroscience at the Washington University School of Medicine in January, 2017.  

Selected Honors and Awards

  • Ruth K. Broad Biomedical Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship
  • Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • F32 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award
  • Simons Foundation Bridge to Independence Award
  • Brain and Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Young Investigator Award
  • Whitehall Foundation Research Award