Hyojun was born and raised in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. While he was an undergraduate student in Mechanical Engineering at Soongsil University, his dissertation study was on the flapping motion of a dragonfly and the aeroelasticity of its wing. He was fascinated by the dynamics of living things and their efficiency, which is way above the level of artificial machines. From then, he started to look deeper into mechanics in living things, mechanobiology.
He volunteered in two internship programs at KAIST and POSTECH in 2019, intending to develop in vitro tissue models with an electrospinning technique. Phenotypes of podocytes and endothelial cells cultured within an electrospun nanofibers scaffold were highly affected by topological stimuli of the scaffold, mimicking the microenvironment of their origin (e.g., basal membrane). These fascinating and phenomenological results excited his curiosity about the physical/general mechanisms of mechanosensation at the single-cell level.
In 2020, Hyojun participated in the KIST-Korea University joint research program for his Master’s degree in Bioengineering, where he worked with Dr Ki Joo Pahk on the biophysical mechanism of therapeutic ultrasound. He speculated that the ultrasound could reach into the intracellular area beyond the cell membrane and directly alter the biophysical properties of various contents in it. He found that ultrasound stimulation enhanced the diffusivity of intracellular macromolecules, and this passive-like response can subsequently affect several biological processes, including nucleocytoplasmic transport and kinase activity.
Hyojun joined the LAAS-CNRS as a PhD student under the supervision of Morgan in 2022. He challenges the biophysical mechanisms of decreased protein synthesis from different cell kingdoms under mechanical pressure, dissecting every step of central dogma at the mesoscopic scale. It is still obscure whether the rheological property changes of living cells (e.g., liquid-liquid phase separation) under pressure are the process of cell adaptations or physical responses to mechanical stress. This vital question stands a chance to shift the mechanobiological paradigm toward cell membrane strain to the interior or whole compartment of cells.