International Biological Physics Conference Honors Professor Wokyung Sung’s Retirement After 28 Years at POSTECH

2014-09-12 43,145

International Biological Physics Conference Honors Professor Wokyung Sung’s Retirement After 28 Years at POSTECH


The international conference “Surmounting the Insurmountable – Pathways of Biological Physics” was held on August 28-30th at the POSCO International Center at POSTECH to commemorate the retirement of Professor Wokyung Sung of the Department of Physics. The conference highlighted the pathways of statistical biological physics covering the topics Professor Sung has worked on throughout his career, namely 1) Statistical, Soft Matter, and Stochastic Physics, 2) Single-molecule Biophysics, 3) Membrane and Cellular Physics/ Self-assembly and organization, and 4) Biopolymer Translocation and Related Dynamics.

Professor Sung has contributed widely to the physical understanding of basic biological processes that emerge at the mesoscopic level. In particular, he has pioneered the problem of polymer translocation through a membrane [Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 783 (1996)], which later engendered a whole new separate field in biological physics, which was highlighted during the last session of the conference. He also has served as an editor-in-chief of the Journal of Biological Physics, an international journal published by Springer. For his seminal contributions to science and in particular to biological physics, Prof. Sung was awarded a Medal of Science and Technology bestowed by the Korean Government in 2010. 

As the first chairman of the physics department, as early as 1986-89, Professor Sung played a pivotal role in establishing and developing the department, while serving in founding the university. He also played a major role in attracting the Asia Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics (APCTP) to POSTECH, for which he later served as a Science Council Member as well as a Special Advisor.

“Inspired by the vision of our late, the first president of POSTECH, Dr. Kim Ho Gil, I returned to Korea from the USA in 1986, and joined in founding this new university,” said Professor Sung in his retirement speech. “In a short period of time, despite many difficulties…POSTECH has grown to become an internationally renowned university. And I am truly happy to have been a part of founding such university and physics department.”

An emeritus professorship was awarded to him at the retirement ceremony and conference banquet. He used the occasion to donate a scholarship fund of 50 million KRW (~$50,000 USD) for undergraduate students who make the most outstanding academic improvements in the field of physics.

Professor Sung received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Seoul National University and his Ph.D. in physics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He will continue work as a research professor at the physics department as well as a distinguished research fellow at the IBS Center for Self-assembly and Complexity located at POSTECH.