Meet Amgen Scholar Hannah Park

Dec 1, 2014 12:10 PM ET
Hannah (Hyun Ji) Park

New York, NY

“This summer, I worked in a biomedical engineering lab, doing research in regenerative medicine.” 

Host University: Columbia University Home University: Columbia University Amgen Scholar Year: 2014 Major: Chemical Engineering Expected Graduation: 2016

Journey to Science

At age 19, Hannah Park experienced a harrowing incident that forever changed the course of her life.

While on spring break, Hannah underwent LASEK eye surgery. She experienced terrible inflammation which clouded her vision to the point where she could no longer read. Hannah took one year off from school to recover and underwent another surgery to help heal her eyes. Her surgeon was the first doctor she’d met who conducted his own research and who also applied translational research directly to his patients. Hannah had previously found “science” and “research” to be fairly abstract concepts, but quickly saw how the two connected to truly benefit people. Hannah decided that if she was ever able to read again, she would dedicate her life to helping people suffering from eye-related diseases.

Academic and Professional Ambitions

Why did you apply to the Amgen Scholars Program?

“I heard about the Amgen Scholars Program when I was applying to SURF (summer undergraduate research fellowship) at my home school, Columbia University. I’m interested in biotech, and when I was researching biotech companies, Amgen came to the top of my searches.”

What did you work on in the lab?

“This summer, I worked in a biomedical engineering lab, doing research in regenerative medicine.”

What’s the larger significance of your Amgen Scholars research? What’s your ultimate career goal?

“I’m interested in researching symptoms of and treatment for eye-related diseases. The second doctor who did the healing surgery on me used amniotic membrane, full of nutrition, to put on my eyes to help heal them. This procedure is usually used on older patients, but he thought it would help me.”

What’s been the most rewarding part of your experience?

“It has been valuable to have an experience similar to that of Ph.D. students. I think that interacting with other students at visiting schools has given me exposure to a variety of thinking. I appreciated hearing about what other people were doing in different fields of science, from biology to tissue engineering and chemistry.”


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