I am eager to help my students experience the joy of learning about the world—and the key factors that shape national, regional, and international dynamics. I believe that the best way to do this is by sharing with students my enthusiasm for studying international relations and Asian studies, and by sparking their own curiosity and interest in these fields. I have found that students learn the most from an engaging learning environment in which they constantly interact with their peers as well as the professor and apply the concepts learned from the class to real-world examples—from the war in Ukraine, to U.S.-China competition, to climate change. For this reason, all of my classes feature student-led current-event presentations, small-group discussion sessions, and weekly global or Asia update segments. In my courses, I place a particular emphasis on helping students grasp multiple perspectives and a deeper, nuanced understanding of Asia and the world.
I teach at all levels of the college curriculum, ranging from introductory-level courses to senior seminars. They include Introduction to International Politics, Introduction to Asian Studies, Chinese Foreign Policy, and Global Governance. My courses also serve as electives in interdisciplinary programs such as Asian Studies and International Affairs. While challenging, I enjoy teaching intro-level courses because I get to work with first-year students, whose academic curiosity and direction are heavily influenced by the connection they feel about the course material and the instructor. My students have shared with me that my passion for international politics and Asian studies have shaped their future intellectual journeys. I also like teaching upper-level courses because we can do deep dives into Chinese foreign policymaking and various issues of global significance.
I am a firm believer in the symbiosis between teaching and research. In fact, most of my recent research projects have stemmed from key issues and puzzles that emerged from teaching my classes. Teaching forces me to clarify my thoughts on ongoing research, helping me identify room for additional research and refine my analytical framework. At the same time, my own research is essential for my ability to teach because it keeps me abreast of the latest research and developments in my field of study, and it helps me delineate pertinent points and gain applicable data and cases for my courses.
My Research Interests
My research interests include international relations, nuclear proliferation, alliance, regionalism, energy, and environmental politics. I work on these topics with a primary regional focus on East Asia—specifically China, Japan, North Korea, and South Korea.
My passion for international relations began during my graduate studies in Seoul, South Korea. I was fortunate to receive a summer internship opportunity at a foreign policy think tank in Washington, D.C. During that summer, I worked on a range of international issues and visited the State Department, various foreign embassies, and the Congress for House and Senate hearings. That memorable summer experiencing world politics on the ground inspired me to pursue a doctoral degree in International Relations at Cornell University. As part of my dissertation research, I conducted yearlong fieldwork in China, Japan, and South Korea. I also received a research fellowship from Harvard University.
Since then, I have published a book and a number of scholarly journal articles. My first book, which was published by Oxford University Press, is a comparative analysis of North Korea and Iran’s nuclear pursuit and their impact on regional order in East Asia and the Middle East. I’m currently working on my second book project, which explores the politics of nuclear energy. I recently published an article about nuclear energy politics in China in Political Science Quarterly. I also have another journal article that came out this year, explaining reasons for the nuclear phaseout in Germany and the expansion of nuclear energy in South Korea.
Lafayette fits perfectly with my interactive teaching philosophy. I have previously taught at a larger public university. Given the bigger size of my classes there, it was difficult for me to effectively engage students on a regular basis. I was drawn to Lafayette precisely because a liberal arts college with smaller classes and more intimate classroom settings allows me to interact better with my students and lead discussion-based classes.
Lafayette also provides a great deal of support for research and teaching. A prime example is the EXCEL Scholars Program, which provides students the opportunity to work with faculty members on research projects. It is a mutually beneficial collaboration in which students get hands-on research experience, while professors receive valuable research assistance. I have been fortunate to have many EXCEL students over the years, and many of those projects eventually led to publications in scholarly journals. In addition, I have received a number of Academic Research Committee (ARC) grants and R.K. Mellon Summer Research Fellowships from Lafayette, all of which helped me conduct field research in Asia on a number of research projects.
Awards and Honors
R.K. Mellon Summer Research Fellowship, Lafayette College (2022 and 2015)
Associate-in-Research, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University (2019-2020)
Academy of Korean Studies Research Fellowship, South Korea (2019 and 2015)
Faculty Merit Award (2012) and Teaching Enhancement Award (2009), Cleveland State University
Research Fellowship, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University (2006-2007)
My Personal Interests/Community Work
Beyond academia, I strive to contribute to broader communities with my expertise in international relations and Asian studies. For instance, I have co-authored opinion pieces on U.S. alliances and North Korea for The Washington Post, and I’ve done a number of media interviews with local and international news outlets, like WFMZ-TV, TBS FM, and NBC. Furthermore, I have given lectures on international and Asian politics to local communities, Lafayette alumni, and school teachers in the Lehigh Valley as part of the National Consortium of Asian Studies.