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SNU Aggressive in Professor Recruitment

Jul 10, 2006

Seoul National University (SNU) has decided to bypass the usual hiring procedures in its recruitment of an assistant professor for its Department of Physics and Astronomy (DPA).

Hong Song-chol, a physicist currently living in the U.S., is only the second professor hired by SNU without undergoing the due public recruitment process. The first was renowned violinist Kim Young-wook at the College of Music.

The College of Natural Sciences instituted a special recruitment regulation to employ Dr. Hong. The school expects this will help prevent SNU from missing out on other qualified scholars due to the long public recruitment process.

``The timing is very important for our human resources employment process but SNU has a complicated process of hiring professors and it is still conservative in their recruitment,” DPA chairman Hong Jong-bae, said.

Hong, 36, majored in physics at SNU, and has a master’s and Ph.D. degree from the same university. After graduation, he went to the United States where he studied biophysics at the University of Illinois, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

With job offers from three U.S universities, his work has scored highly in the ``Journal Impact Factor,” a science citation index compiled by the U.S.-based Institute for Scientific Information.

The Journal Impact Factor is a measure of importance for scientific journals. Calculated annually, the often-controversial results are published in the ``Journal Citation Report.’’

Although enjoying popularity, biophysics still lacks specialists here, which is why the DPA decided on Dr. Hong, an SNU spokesman said.