With the retirement of Hillsdale’s Professor of Biology Bob Miller this past spring, Sang-Chul Nam has been hired as new associate professor of biology, teaching Biology 101 and Developmental Biology this semester.
After a process involving the weighing of many candidates, Professor of Biology David Houghton said that Nam is “one of the most qualified people ever hired” in Hillsdale’s science department.
Nam’s qualifications include his prior teaching experience, where he spent the last 12 years between working as an associate professor for seven years at Baylor University and five years at Texas A&M University.
Before coming to America, Nam grew up and studied in South Korea. He studied agricultural chemistry for four years at Seoul National University, then pursued biology at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Both universities were large research-based institutions, with between 10,000 and 30,000 students.
Nam was prompted to leave his background at larger universities because he wanted the opportunity to connect with students on a deeper level, made possible by Hillsdale’s small liberal-arts environment.
One key factor in the search was finding a professor who could enrich the biology department with a strong background in research.
With a list of skills and expertise including experience using immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence techniques, Nam has taken on some very unique research projects.
His current project examines how genetics play a role in fruit-fly eye development.
He described his research as an integration of two kinds of genetic mixtures, which he then tested on flies to observe the changes in eye development. Genetic manipulation has “incredible potential for the future,” Nam said.
The practical implications and possibilities of this type of research are seemingly endless.
Nam said his end goal is to uncover more information on organ development, which could unlock many doors to the study of genetics in animals.
Though it’s early in the academic year, students taking Nam’s Biology 101 class already commend his teaching style and gentle personality.
Freshman Anayia Veremis said her first impression of Nam was that he is “very serious about his studies in biology and cares a lot about the content of his class.” She noted he has mentioned his research on fruit flies in class, planning to dive deeper into the subject once an understanding of basic terms is established among the students.
Students taking Nam’s biology courses can expect to learn applicable information in his lectures. For instance, students who are interested in medical or research professions may gain insight into what scientific research and experimentation entail, instead of simply learning facts and memorizing diagrams.
Nam said he tends to integrate his research into these lectures so he can provide real-world examples for his students. While he tries to follow a more textbook-based curriculum, he also likes to keep students engaged and thinking ahead.
Nam also said he is still constantly learning new ways to approach course material.
Nam takes time to reflect on and adjust his own actions, learning from his mistakes and triumphs every year.
“My primary goal is always to continue improving myself and the experience of my students. I want to become a better teacher, researcher, and scholar every year,” Nam said.