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Between global leaders


Karman Fellow 2021

Soyeon Yi


Dr. Soyeon Yi is South Korea’s first and only astronaut. She was selected as an astronaut in December, 2006, out of 36,000 contestants vying for the title of South Korea’s First Astronaut. On April 8, 2008, she launched into space on-board Soyuz TMA-12. During her 11-day mission at the International Space Station (ISS), Dr. Yi completed aggressive number of experiments contributing to South Korea’s science text books and science channel television lectures.

During her historical return to earth on April 19, 2008, she survived a force of nearly 16-G (versus 4-G average) upon the ballistic re-entry. Due to re-entry complications, the first to welcome her return to earth were nomads in the plains of Kazakhstan. Dr. Yi received her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and her Ph.D. from KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). Her Ph.D. thesis is “DNA Separation Chips Using Temporal Asymmetric Ratchet Effect in NonUniform E-Fields”. In May, 2014, Dr. Yi received her MBA with emphasis on Technology and Global Leadership at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Currently, Dr. Yi is working with Studio XID developing digital prototyting softwares as the head of global customer engagement, and with Silicon Valley based satellite startup, Loft Orbital Solutions Inc. as the strategic business development & international partnerships. Dr. Yi is passionate about nurturing the next generation of leaders in STEM; she is not only volunteering for various non-profits as an inspiring speaker but also lecturing at University of Washington and local community colleges. When she is not busy with her global speaking engagements, she enjoys singing, playing the piano, gardening, crafts and hiking.

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