Prof. Kookheon Char

Seoul National University, Korea

Within the first granting of the Gutenberg Research Award, the Korean chemistry engineer Prof. Kookheon Char was honoured last Wednesday. The award is a tribute to Prof. Char’s research achievements in the field of polymer physics and polymer chemistry. Besides, the award is an opportunity to maintain and develop the University’s visibility in the international scene as well as to improve partnership with foreign researchers. The internationally well recognized scientist, professor for chemical engineering at Seoul National University, works with extremely thin polymer films in order to develop and construct functional units, which can be used in organic light-emitting diodes for screens or displays or in organic solar cells. In that context, organic-inorganic hybrid materials, which are the binding subject of the two Graduate Classes of Excellence, MATCOR and POLYMAT, are processed, too.

The Johannes Gutenberg University established an ambitious program to improve the support of its young scientific researchers. With its two classes MATCOR and POLYMAT, the recently established Graduate School "Materials Science in Mainz” ( MAINZ) is successful in the competition issued by the federal state of Rheinland-Pfalz and also reached the next round in the competition issued by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany. Organized and offered by MAINZ, the Gutenberg Lecture Award was granted to the Nobel Prize winner Prof. Dr. Jean-Marie Lehn from Strasbourg. The Gutenberg Research Award is another award, which is granted to an internationally well recognized scientist in conjunction with a visiting professorship in Mainz. The Gutenberg Lecture Award, as well as the Gutenberg Research Award, will be granted twice a year in the future.

Kookheon Char, born 1958 in Seoul, studied chemistry engineering at Seoul National University (SNU) and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Afterwards, he worked in the industry for a while before he reached his PhD at Stanford University in 1989. During his post-doc, Char worked for IBM in San Jose, California. In the year 1991, he returned to SNU as Assistant Professor. Soon he became Associate Professor in 1995 and in 2001 finally Full Professor. Different visiting professorships led him to the University of Lausanne and Paris and to the MIT.

Within the scope of the granting with the Gutenberg Research Award, Kookheon Char stays in Mainz for the rest of the week. In fall 2006, he is going to remain at the University of Mainz for the purpose of research. That stay then occurs in conjunction with the establishment of a new international Graduate College with the title "self-organizing materials for optoelectronic applications”, which deals with new materials, that are supposed to be used within screens and solar cells – a field that matches Prof. Char’s special field. The German Research Community (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) approved the foundation of the newly created Graduate College last month. The speaker is Prof. Rudolf Zentel from the Institute of organic chemistry at the University of Mainz.

With its support of the Graduate Colleges, the DFG wants to improve the structured doctorate in Germany. Graduate Colleges provide doctoral candidates the opportunity to gather interdisciplinary expertise and to become independent early in their research activities. The sponsored candidates also directly cooperate with foreign research colleagues. The DFG currently supports 283 Colleges, while 53 of them are international ones.

The president of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Joerg Michaelis, called the approval of the new College a big success for the cooperation between the University of Mainz and Seoul National University. "We are happy, that after a long-lasting positive student’s exchange between our universities, both chemical institutes are able to perform their cooperation on an institutional level”, he said. "I hope, the cooperation between our institutions will strengthen and in the future maybe also consist of other fields besides chemistry”.

Gutenberg Research 06

left to right: K.Char, R.Zentel, J.Michaelis