April 30, 2019
Tae Kim was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea and moved to the US in 10th grade. Prior to attending the University of Chicago, she studied math and economics at Cornell and worked at an insurance company in Seoul. She is now in her fourth year at UChicago, pursuing a PhD in statistics. We interviewed her via email about her experiences at UChicago.
What have you been studying or researching as part of your program?
I am working on methodology development, especially for applications to biological data.
Why did you choose the University of Chicago?
I liked how the faculty members in the department—prominent researchers themselves—actively support students’ research. I also considered the general academic environment of the campus as a whole—not just the department—and I valued the rigorous intellectual culture that prevails across different departments. Lastly, I loved the diversity and culture of the city of Chicago.
Describe something you are proud of accomplishing at UChicago.
Mostly due to lack of data, genetic studies have focused on Caucasians, so I developed a methodology that works with a small sample size. This allowed me to analyze the genome and transcriptome of African Americans. I am hoping my research can contribute to filling the racial gaps in health care.
What’s something you love to do outside of the classroom and lab?
I love to sing as a part of Rockefeller Chapel Choir. I also learn and teach K-pop choreographies for fun.
What are your plans post-UChicago?
I would like to continue doing interdisciplinary work where the data sets present both important and challenging statistical problems.
What support have you received at UChicago that was particularly valuable to you?
I received the David Wallace Award for Applied Statistics from the department for my research in applied statistics, which provided partial support for the summer.
If you were speaking to someone who wants to learn about UChicago, what would you tell them?
No matter which topic or field you want to study, there is always someone on campus whose ideas will greatly contribute to your work. If you are willing to reach out, you will never be alone in your research.
How has your background or experience prepared you to contribute to an environment where diversity and inclusion are valued?
When I first moved to a new environment as a teenager, I was self-conscious about the cultural gap and felt apologetic when I didn’t instantly connect with people. But I have met many wonderful friends since then who take genuine interest in my culture, and I now understand that different personal backgrounds are not something we have to just be patient and tolerant about, but instead something we must value for the new perspectives brought to the table.