Jungho (Daniel) Choi

Class of 2020

A native of Korea, Daniel Choi came to Brown for the Open Curriculum; what he discovered was a passion for scientific research.

 Living in South Korea, Daniel didn’t have the chance to visit Brown, or any college, before applying. He researched universities online instead. A talk Professor of Biology Kenneth Miller gave about Brown's Open Curriculum captured Daniel’s attention.  

“He said that the Open Curriculum works for a very special kind of student who wants to construct his own education,” Daniel says. “That's the sort of student I wanted to be, and that's when I knew I would apply to Brown.”

For students here, the academic freedom is liberating, because it allows them to explore the things they’re truly passionate about.

– Jungho (Daniel) Choi

Since he arrived on campus, Daniel, who is studying both chemical physics and math, has come to realize how true Professor Miller’s description was.

“For students here, the academic freedom is liberating, because it allows them to explore the things they’re truly passionate about,” he says. “Talk to anyone and you will find something they're passionate about, which makes for interesting and intriguing conversations. The same is true about the faculty.”

It’s hard to imagine now, but Daniel had not done research before coming to Brown. He was surprised how accessible research was to undergraduates, and once he stepped into the lab, he didn’t want to leave.

“Before I came to Brown, I had this vague idea that I wanted to try doing research. I've always been someone who was very curious about everything around me, whether it be the physical world or the people who inhabit it, and research sounded appealing because you study things that are still open questions in the hopes of understanding more and adding to an existing body of knowledge.”

During his time at Brown, Daniel has done research in a variety of labs on a range of topics. He examined dark-matter interactions in galaxy clusters using weak gravitational lensing, and took part in a project exploiting symmetry to mitigate the sign problem in quantum Monte Carlo simulations, which are computational methods whose common aim is the study of complex quantum systems.

Both of these experiences were funded by Undergraduate Teaching Research Awards. In addition, Daniel has done research internships at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the University of South Alabama College of Medicine and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

One important thing Daniel has learned about research is just how intensely collaborative it is. “No researcher works in isolation, and everybody builds on the work of other researchers, historic and contemporary.”

Daniel appreciates how accessible research faculty members have been. “I've found professors at Brown to be absolutely wonderful,” he says. “They're very passionate about their work, and they’re usually very accessible for undergraduates to talk to. The only thing stopping you from talking to a professor is a knock on an office door or a quick email to set up a meeting. I've talked to professors about everything from research, to academic advice, to life advice.”

At Brown, Daniel has also worked as both a tutor and a teaching assistant, something he thoroughly enjoyed. But there are so many unanswered scientific questions he’s curious about, he’s not sure yet what he wants to do after Brown. For now, he’s happy to continue to study and do research in graduate school.

“I hope to be able to combine my dual passions for teaching and research to eventually work as a professor,” Daniel says. “Brown has helped me realized I can do both, and more.”