Research Update

While building prototype wound models to analyze cell migration behavior towards regions of inflammation, William noticed an interesting dependence of this behavior on the type of hydrogel in which the cells travel through. Through additional experiments he believes that there are significant contributions from both the mechanical strength as well as the chemical makeup of the hydrogel environment. He is now employing his most promising hydrogel in a more complex model using the MBEL organ chip system, in order to achieve a more accurate representation of in-vivo wounds.

Outside of Lab and Outside of Korea

Taking advantage of the close proximity to Japan and IRiKA’s generous funds, William went on a weekend trip to Tokyo to visit a couple of old friends and enjoy amazing new cuisines. Throughout the trip, he encountered one of the most complex train systems and some of the most breathtaking nightscapes he had ever seen.

On the night of his arrival, William reconnected with a friend middle school for the first time in nearly a decade. They shared a delicious meal of “yakiniku” (Japanese style bbq) in the Kichijoji neighborhood while catching up on life and discussing differences in job hunting in Japan and the US. While the yakiniku setup was similar to the cook-it-yourself experience in Korean bbq restaurants, William was able to try some unique cuts of meat including his first, and surprisingly yummy, taste of beef tongue.

Left: William and his middle school friend holding a plate of fresh beef tongue. Right: An intersection at night in Kichijoji.

William spent the rest of his trip exploring various areas of the city with his local friend Yurina, a former coworker in his lab at Northwestern. They first visited a trending interactive digital art museum featuring work by teamLab. The art exhibit “Boarderles” comprised of several interconnected rooms and hallways filled with dynamic light shows and accompanying music.

Images from the teamLab Boardless exhibit. Left: Rain and flower projections room with a synthetic rock formation in the center. Right: William standing in a forest of color changing LED strips.

Later they also explored the area of Ginza, which has a famous street where car traffic is restricted on Sundays, allowing pedestrians to roam freely around. There, he also had his first “sushi omakase” in Japan. Omakase, which literally means to trust, is a style of dining where the customer leaves the menu decision to the chef, believing that the chef knows what is the freshest and most delicious items that day. Similarly, each piece of sushi is served one at a time and quickly eaten, with the understanding that each piece is prepared precisely at the optimum condition.

Left: William and Yurina in Ginza. Right: A piece of sushi from the omakase meal.

Another highlight from the trip was a multi-course teppanyaki dinner in the Tokyo Skytree, the second tallest building in the world behind the Burj Khalifa. Teppanyaki is a style of cooking that involves preparing the food on a countertop iron griddle, which allows for cooking of a wide variety foods including soft items such as rice and eggs. One of the best courses included a butter roasted abalone served with some lightly cooked veggies and lemon. The large class windows in the dining room provided an amazing view of the city at night, making the food even more delicious.

Left: Abalone dish from the teppanyaki dinner. Right: View from the Tokyo Skytree at night.