Since high school, Kevin Song said he’s always had an interest in science and trying to figure out some of the world’s unanswered problems.
The Kansas University chemical engineering sophomore from Lawrence has been rewarded with a Barry M. Goldwater scholarship, the 48th in KU’s history since the program began in 1989.
In high school lab sciences, Song said he was often frustrated.
“We’d have all the answers, and we tried to match our results to the given answers,” he said.
He became so frustrated, in fact, he began calling up professors at KU looking for work in their labs.
One called him back, he said.
Wonpil Im, an associate professor of molecular bioscience, helped Song get acquainted with various computer programs during his senior year at Free State High School, and got him started on the research he’s doing today, looking at the structures of proteins and their associated membranes.
For Song, it’s a better topic than his high school labs, because it’s something that doesn’t come with predetermined answers.
“There are so many things we don’t know yet,” said Song, who hopes to pursue a career as a faculty member in structural biology. “I want to be a part of that process of understanding things.”
Goldwater scholarships honor outstanding academic credentials paired with significant research experience among students interested in pursuing a career in mathematics or scientific research. They cover eligible expenses for undergraduate tuition, fees, books, and room and board, up to $7,500 annually.
Chris Wiles, assistant director of the KU Honors Program, said it is a significant accomplishment to win a Goldwater scholarship, but more so as a sophomore.
“Kevin is a very intelligent student,” Wiles said. “He’s also very eager to learn, and willing to help out in any way he can. He’s nothing but a pleasure to work with.”