Plants and Their People: Dong-gyu Kim

June 10, 2021


Tell us who you are

My name is Dong-gyu Kim, my pronouns are he/him? I'm a graduate student with the Department of Pathology. I was born in Daegu South Korea.

What made you interested in plant pathology?

My research revolves around investigating the nature of the interaction between the soybean cyst nematode, a root parasite of soybeans, their host plants, and various soil fungi. So my interest in plant pathology began as a general fascination with microorganisms. The massive impact that microorganisms and their interactions have in our everyday lives was something that captivated me and that sort of interest carried over to Plant Pathology.

What did you study as an undergraduate student?

I started my undergraduate studies as a major in biochemistry. I thought I would go into the medical field when I moved onto higher education, but one thing led to another, and I met my current advisor, Dr. Kathryn Bushley. She and her graduate students introduced me to the field of Plant Pathology and the profound impact that microbes have on our food production systems. From there, my love for Plant Pathology gradually grew out of being involved in various undergraduate research opportunities.

What were some of your favorite classes or any research projects you were involved in?

If I could say I had a favorite class, it will be all of those that are focused on the molecular aspects of microorganisms. I think that early on in my undergraduate career, I knew that my obsession would be at the molecular biology and biochemistry level.

Why is studying plant pathology interesting/important to you?

For me, plant pathology is really important because it reminds me of the agricultural practices and cultures that have brought me up to this point and continues to nurture me. And I guess in some way or another, it feels like my way of somehow returning to those things.

Who has been an important mentor or what has been a source of inspiration for you in your scientific journey?

I think every day, I'm most inspired by my peers, my fellow graduate students, and researchers who with their unique backgrounds and research interests and personalities continue to make an identity of themselves in this field.

Can you describe a challenge you have had to overcome in your plant pathology career?

I'd say the biggest challenge I continuously face almost daily. In my time as a plant pathologist, is the everyday decisions that come up as part of my research. Everything as small as what am I doing today to where do I take this in the long run, I think is the thing that most engages me and keeps me on my toes.