Developed international collaborative research projects on selective reduction reaction of organic compounds by metal hydrides Established the framework for the promotion of Korean chemistry via research and the fostering of junior scholars, as well establishing the foundations for future research in chemistry
(Late) Yoon Nung Min
Honorary professor, Sogang University (1927~ 2009)
- Academic background
Pyeongyang High School
B.S., College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Seoul National Univ. (chemistry)
Sc.D., Graduate School, Purdue Univ. (chemistry)
- Professional career
1969 ~ 2009
Professor, Honorary Professor, Dept. of Chemistry, Sogang Univ.
1989 ~ 1990
President, Korea Chemistry Society
2005 ~ 2009
Member of National Academy of Sciences
Order of Civil Merit, Peony Medal
ROK Science and Technology Award
ROK National Academy Award
Professor Nung-Min Yoon acquired international recognition for his research on selective reduction reactions by metal hydrides and organic synthesis using metal hydrides. He was a leading chemist in Korea who fostered junior scholars, helping them to form outstanding research groups.
Internationally recognized research on organic compounds' selective reduction reactions and organic synthesis area
Professor Yoon was born in Pyeongannam-do during the era of the Japanese occupation. After graduating from high school in Pyeongyang, he entered Gyeongseong Univ. (currently, Seoul National Univ.) starting at the Preparatory Dept. for undergraduates and then the Dept. of Chemistry of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Graduating from the college in 1951, he then became a researcher at the Science and Technology Institute at the Dept. of National Defense. Three years later he began teaching chemistry as a professor at Catholic Medical College. In 1963, he quit that stable job and committed himself to bringing himself up to the highest level in research by studying abroad.
He discovered his lifetime research topic while studying at Purdue Univ. His advisor, Professor Herbert C. Brown, was an experts working on selective reduction using aluminum and boron and hydrogen compound along with boron hydride addition reaction. Professor Yoon focused on selective reduction of the two areas and he implemented joint research activities together with Professor Brown during his graduate studies there that he would continue after he returned to Korea. Professor Yoon became a professor at Sogang Univ. after receiving Ph.D. degree in 1968 where he continued his research until he retired as an honorary professor in 2009. He published an incredible 110 papers during his tenure.
Professor Yoon's research achievements are unique as he pioneered fields of research in Korea and he prompted follow up research on critical topics. Firstly, he established a systematic research method on the characteristics of selective reduction of organic compounds via metal hydrides. This was a systematic expansion of his previous work on selective reduction of aluminum - boron hydrides conducted with Professor Brown. He selected 56 organic compounds which he then tested in experiments and determined through research the reduction characteristics for each metal hydride, such as lithium - aluminum hydride (LiAlH4), aluminum hydride, and boron hydride (BH3-THF) for each organic compound, one by one. With the accumulated results of these systematic researches on each metal hydride, the researcher could efficiently determine the agent and the method of synthesis that best fit to the object. Dr. Yoon’s development of this methodology was major contribution to the field.
Secondly, he showed the potential for developing selective reduction agents. He proved that each derivative shows reduction characteristic that is different from original agent, and then, he developed those derivatives by introducing a variety of R group or other substitutes to known reduction agents such as boron (BH3). As the derivatives he developed enabled selective reduction reaction that was different from existing reduction agents, they could be effectively applied to chemical reactions where a certain selective characteristic is required.
Thirdly, he pioneered a new research area on asymmetric hydrogenous boron reactions. This new method synthesizes a chirality (hand symmetry) compound by inducing hydrogenous boron reactions. He showed that the characteristics of an asymmetric hydrogenous boron reaction using a basic research method that synthesizes chirality alcohol. This study prompted other researchers to develop asymmetric synthesis method utilizing a boron compound.
Led Organic Reaction Research Center at Sogang Univ. and formed a leading research group
Promoted international collaboration by establishing Korea-Japan Organic Chemistry Symposium that was held on a regular basis
Professor Yoon also contributed to the formation of a researcher groups in chemistry and the fostering of junior scholars. During his term of office, he fostered a total of 10 Ph.D's and 51 master's degree scholars who went on to play a major role in the field. He led them to achieve a high level in research during the 1970s and 1980s, at a time when Korean universities lacked proper research environments. Also, in 1990s, he was awarded funding for a Advanced Research Center by the Korea Science Foundation and he used the support to found the Organic Reaction Research Center at Sogang Univ. He led the research group as the head of the center for 9 years and he thereby made a major contribution to the development of Korean organic chemistry. Also, he proposed and founded the annual organic chemistry joint symposium together with Japanese researchers that has been held regularly since 1980.
Professor Yoon contributed to the leveling up of the Korean chemistry research by his globally recognized research accomplishments, by fostering junior scholars, and by organizing group research. The Korean government, and Korean experts recognized his achievements and awarded him the Order of Civil Merit, Peony Medal in 1983, the Korea Science and Technology Award in 1990, the National Academy of Sciences Award in 1993, and the Inchon Award in 1995.