Vice President for Research Sang Yup Lee, a distinguished professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is a pioneering scholar in the fields of metabolic engineering and systems and synthetic biology.
He has established systems metabolic engineering, and developed various microorganisms capable of producing a wide range of fuels, chemicals, materials, and natural compounds, many of which for the first time. Some of the breakthroughs include microbial production of gasoline, diacids, diamines, PLA and PLGA polymers, and several natural products.
His highly acclaimed scholarship led him to be listed as one of the Highly Cited Researchers (HCR) ranked in the top 1% by citations in their field by Clarivate Analytics for four consecutive years from 2017.
Distinguished Professor Lee served as the dean of KAIST Institutes (KI), headquarters for multi-and interdisciplinary research at KAIST for six years. At KI, he oversaw the nine research groups BioCentury, IT Convergence, Robotics, NanoCentury, Health Science and Technology, AI, Saudi Aramco-KAIST CO2 Management Center, the Fourth Industrial Revolution Intelligence Center, and Epidemic Preparedness. Before serving as the dean of KI, he was also the dean of the College of Life Science and Bioengineering for six years from 2008.
He started his academic career at KAIST in 1994. A graduate of Seoul National University, majoring in chemical engineering, Vice President Lee earned his PhD in chemical engineering at Northwestern University in 1991 after completing his MS there in 1987.
The first Korean fellow ever elected at the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) in the US in 2017, Vice President Lee is one of 13 scholars elected as a foreign fellow of both the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in the US.
He was the chairman of the Global Agenda Councils (GAC) on Emerging Technologies, chairman of GAC on Biotechnology, and chairman of the Global Future Council on Biotechnology at the World Economic Forum.
A founding member of the Board of Trustees at the Samsung Science and Technology Foundation, Vice President Lee works as editor-in-chief of major journals and books such as Metabolic Engineering, Biotechnology Journal, Discover Chemical Engineering, and Advanced Biotechnology Book Series.
Since he was recognized with the First Young Scientist’s Award in Engineering from the Korean government in 1998, he has received numerous awards at home and abroad such as the Marvin Johnson Award in 2012, the Ho-Am Prize in Engineering in 2014, the Korea Best Scientist Award in 2017, the Eni Award in Advanced Environmental Solutions in 2018 from the president of Italy, the NAEK Award of the National Academy of Engineering of Korea, and the Samson Prize from the Israeli prime minister in 2019.
For more on his research, visit the Metabolic Engineering Lab’s homepage(http://mbel.kaist.ac.kr)