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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.