2013-2014 Luce Scholar

Placement: BioRobotics Laboratory, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Seoul National University, Korea

Gene Merewether grew up in La Jolla, California, racing sailboats, hiking and camping, and building robots with his dad. His experiences on the water and in the mountains sparked a love of fast-paced, stressful situations. Coming from a family of scientists and engineers, he planned to study science and engineering from an early age. Recently, he majored in chemistry with a minor in computer science at Princeton University. He spent the summer before his junior year at EaStCHEM, an interdisciplinary chemistry institute at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. While there, he expanded the usable range of a tool for measuring chemical potential in living cells, which will provide insights into cancer regulation and programmed cell death processes. During his undergraduate research in the inorganic chemistry lab of Professor Jeffrey Schwartz, he developed high-strength, rapid-prototyped polymer implants, the applications of which include spinal fusions and prosthetic hips. The surface treatment he applied to the devices will increase the lifetime of the devices in the body. He now focuses on manufacturing surface features on the same scale as human connective tissue cells, to test the ability of the cells to migrate from a flat plane into three dimensions. Gene volunteered with Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad as an EMT and rescue technician, following his passion for helping people in vulnerable situations. He plans to find humanitarian uses for drone technology by building autonomous vehicles for search and rescue. Throughout his graduate work and career, he hopes to maintain his links to the fields of emergency medicine and urban technical rescue, helping him to design products to improve the safety and efficiency of disaster relief.

Gene works in the BioRobotics Laboratory of Dr. Kyu-Jin Cho, in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Seoul National University. As Korea’s leading research university, Seoul National University is committed to diversifying its student body and faculty, fostering global exchange, and promoting path-breaking research in all fields of knowledge. Bio-inspired robotics is the field of robotics using a technology that can easily adapt to the changing environment, by using soft and compliant elements in an intelligent way. Dr. Cho’s lab works on soft bio-inspired robotic technologies that will be helpful for robots that need to perform in rough or uncertain environments such as military robots and biomedical robots.