Sunghoon Ivan Lee

B.A.Sc. (Honours) '08 

Now a postdoctoral research associate in the Motion Analysis Laboratory of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, Sunghoon Ivan Lee – Ivan to his friends and associates – looks back on his time in SFU Engineering Science as an effective introduction to the skills he now deploys on a daily basis.

“When I first came to Harvard, I was a little overwhelmed by the fact that there were all these highly-qualified people here from places like Stanford,” says Lee. “But I soon realized SFU had trained me very well in the fundamentals of finding a problem and coming up with new ideas to address it.”

His current work involves developing state-of-the-art sensors that can be applied to Parkinson’s and brain-injured patients in order to effectively monitor and quantify their conditions. It’s a sophisticated technological approach that aims to assist doctors as they observe and assess their patients – and ultimately improve their treatment

“It’s a challenging area because it’s so broad and it requires a multidisciplinary approach from researchers,” he says, adding that another Ivan – SFU professor Ivan Bajic – inspired his fledgling research interests during his time in the school’s Engineering Science program. “I was a student in his lab and he later helped me apply to schools in the US so I could continue my research.”

Focusing on Computer Engineering during his SFU education, Lee has since gained two MS degrees – in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, respectively – as well as a PhD in Computer Science, all from the prestigious University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

But while there have been several additional accolades along the way – including 2014’s Northrup-Grumman Outstanding Research Student Award from UCLA’s Computer Science Department – Lee reflects on two key successes in his research career after SFU.

“I look at completing my PhD and then getting into Harvard as my first big achievements,” he says, adding that his undergraduate program laid the groundwork for these and any other successes that have since come his way.

“I always look back on my time at SFU as being a very good education for me and the foundation of where I am today,” he says, suggesting that his deep commitment to research is only just beginning. “I’m applying for professorship positions this year and, eventually, I hope to start my own lab.”