Department Chair Dr. Yoojin Jang Choi chose to teach at North Park for its Christian values, vision in STEM growth, and commitment to serving diverse communities—and looks forward to growing with North Park in all of these areas. One way she will achieve this is as the coordinator of the Summer Science Initiative, a program being developed to provide hands-on enrichment courses for local high school students. “This promises to be an exciting opportunity,” says Dr. Choi, “to serve the local community, to introduce North Park to our neighbors, and to help North Park students mentor younger students.”
As a biology professor and researcher in the new Johnson Center for Science and Community Life, Dr. Choi looks forward to continuing her developmental neuro-biology research in the lab, specifically looking at the role of the sonic hedgehog protein in the developing nervous system. “At North Park, I am excited to explore the Chlamydomonas model system to extend my knowledge of sonic hedgehog into its involvement in cilium and flagellum development,” exclaims Dr. Choi.
The new facility will also provide ways for her to enhance the learning of her students. For example, her lectures are recorded and made available for students to review through the Echo360 technology. “I’ve found that it’s a good tool for students who have to miss class,” says Dr. Choi. “It is also an interactive studying tool, because users can search screens, bookmark certain places, and communicate with each other through a forum/chat.”
As a biologist who incorporates her Christian faith into her professional life, Dr. Choi is aware of the difficult questions society poses to someone like her. “I believe in God’s creation and sovereignty over the universe,” she says. “I do try to keep an open mind and encourage my students to do the same regarding questions about the mechanisms of the origin of life, relationship between science and faith, and the wonders of the living world.”
Dr. Choi’s faith also influences how she approaches North Park’s multicultural distinctive in her classes. A South Korea native who grew up in Southern California, she believes the Church is meant to be an inclusive, multicultural body, so every student’s view should be respected and heard. Dr. Choi states, “In my classroom, all students are called upon and asked to contribute. Any example used in class reflects diverse backgrounds. For instance, in my physiology course, we discuss various diseases affecting different groups of people. Even when considering photos of people or pseudonyms in made-up examples, I try to be as multicultural as possible knowing that we’re all sensitive to even such subtle cues. Everyone should feel welcomed to participate in their learning communities.”