About Me

Biography of Dong-Ha Min:

My dream at really young age was to become a navy officer like my father, and that interest later changed to become a scientist by the time I was in elementary school. I was a little boy who loved exploring nature around me with great curiosity. My mother thought I would become a medical doctor because I would love to catch all kinds of insects and dissect frogs in the fields. Yes, I also injected alcohol to those poor critters. Learning latest developments in science and technology including marine subjects from my late uncle Dr. Yun and continuous encouragement to delve into the basic science areas from my father were critical for me to shape up my serious interest in marine science by the time I was entering the college. It was still the time in Korea when people would think I may will become a fisherman or a sailor if I say I am going to study oceanography. Having an opportunity to do a summer intern at the oceanographic research institute during my freshman year, including a participation of a research cruise for about two weeks, was a fateful event for me to decide to pursue oceanography as my career. I am grateful for those who mentored and empowered me during the various stages of my life.

After graduating a college, I entered a master’s degree program at the same school in Seoul under supervision of Prof. K.-R. Kim and learned various kinds of work and research. It was very busy time due to so many field works (that I loved so much) but I had to go through many trials and errors. I was initially interested in measuring dissolved nitrous oxide (N2O) in estuaries, but later changed the thesis research topic to measurement of atmospheric N2O. Although far from complete and conclusive at the time, this work has laid some foundation, at least for me, of forthcoming research in greenhouse gas observation in Korea. After I graduated the MS program and completed a brief military officer training, I returned to Prof. Kim’s lab to join his new research projects to launch the first greenhouse gas monitoring research in Korea. During the next 2 years I was busy learning new techniques by visiting the labs of Profs. C.D. Keeling and Ray F. Weiss at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. I purchased new parts and equipment to build a proto-type analytical system to measure atmospheric chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and N2O and collected air samples from remote island site in Korea for analyzing the samples at the Prof. Keeling’s lab at SIO/UCSD. This remote island site at Kosan, Jeju-do in Korea has become a ‘super-site’ to measure a suite of climate-related trace gases including CO2 and other CFCs, and I feel reminiscent when I hear new from this site.

I became a PhD student at SIO/UCSD under supervision of Prof. Ray F. Weiss in 1992. Initially, I was interested in working on atmospheric trace gas measurement work, but I changed my expertise to measuring dissolved trace gases in the ocean to use them as time-dependent tracers of ocean circulation and ventilation processes. I learned the technique to measure ultra-trace level concentrations of dissolved CFCs in the ocean waters, and participated in a number of sea-going expeditions including WOCE during my PhD program. I was excited to be able to travel various oceans and get to meet new researchers each time I went out to the sea on a cruise.

I did my first postdoctoral research with Prof. Mark. Warner at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA and second with Prof. Klaus Keller at the Penn State University in State College, PA. These were life-enriching experiences for me to become a mature scientist, to develop additional skill sets, and to build up more diverse professional networks. This was the time I learned how to become an independent scientist and how to collaborate with others. Although they were not my official supervisors or committee members, Prof. Lynne Talley (SIO/UCSD) and Dr. John Bullister (NOAA/PMEL) have been my mentors since my SIO/UCSD time. I am indebted to them greatly for their continuous support and advice for so many years.

Then as a faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, I have taught students and conducted research while serving on various duties. I think I still grow in terms of becoming a more competent, more caring, and more contributing and serving member of my community and this society. My most recent experience with an academic support unit at the University is also exciting and rewarding.

I am a ‘connector’ who not only actively seeks new networks for myself, but also creates new networks or connect other people to one another for their benefits. I am enthusiastic to be a teacher, mentor, counselor, and friend for young people. I am currently acting as a coordinator for expatriate Korean marine scientists and students (Korean Oceanographers Network Abroad: KONA), and share the news, directory information, job information, and etc with the members. (contact information: dongha.min@gmail.com).

I was born and grew up in Seoul, Korea. I got married to JungJoo Bae in 1987, and we have two children (Sang-Hee and Gyu-Hee).