Member Spotlight (Feb. 24, 2020) on Dr. Junhan Kim

Member Spotlight (Feb. 24, 2020) on Dr. Junhan Kim:

Dr. Junhan Kim
Robert A. Millikan Postdoctoral Scholar in Physics
California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

Junhan is an experimental astrophysicist and has been working as a postdoctoral researcher at Caltech since September 2019. He finished Ph.D. in the Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona in Tucson. As a graduate student, he worked on the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT; project to study the supermassive black holes.

The EHT project is an experiment that announced its first results last year: imaging the nuclear black hole in the galaxy M87. The EHT combines a global network of widely separated radio telescopes to simulate a much larger aperture, to make images at the highest angular resolution ever achieved. He developed a receiver for the South Pole Telescope (SPT;, and the EHT became a true Earth-sized virtual telescope with the successful addition of the SPT to the array. For this work, he has traveled to the South Pole, Antarctica, five times since 2014. He is broadening the research area from the black hole study to observational cosmology with several new projects at Caltech.

He has been fascinated by astronomy since high school when he took pictures of astronomical objects as a hobby. He was curious about the nature of the objects he photographed and enjoyed expanding knowledge on the subject by reading college-level textbooks. Also, he found electric circuits and robots to be very interesting as well. Therefore, he studied both electrical engineering and astronomy at Seoul National University in South Korea before entering graduate school in the US. During the undergraduate years, he realized that astronomy had expanded its research frontiers with the help of leading-edge instruments and techniques. Then he decided to take part in the development and application of technologies to achieve still-unsolved problems in astrophysics.

He very much enjoys sharing his scientific experiences with others. He had a chance to share his graduate work with AIAA LA-LV section members as soon as he moved to California last Fall (November 9, “Event Horizon Telescope: Studying Black holes from the South Pole”). Recently, he wrote a popular science book, “Exploring the Universe from the South Pole,” in Korean with his friend Dr. Jae Hwan Kang (Stanford University). In the book, the authors share their experience at the South Pole and introduce the astronomers’ efforts to take pictures of the black holes and search for the signal from the early universe.