In memoriam: Junseok Chae
Curiosity-driven, Junseok excelled in his roles as associate dean for research at the Fulton Schools of Engineering and as a professor. His colleagues describe him as someone who met all challenges with dedication and a positive outlook.
As a professor, Junseok’s reputation amongst the student body was equally impeccable. His past and current students speak of a brilliant researcher who was kind, funny and someone who deeply loved his family. In April 2020, he was named an Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Top 5% Teacher.
Junseok joined Arizona State University in 2005 and specialized in wearable sensors and actuators, miniaturized biomedical wireless sensors and systems. One of his recent research projects was developing high-tech brain implants that could ease the effects of hydrocephalus.
Renowned for his work amongst his peers, he published more than 150 journal and conference articles, contributed chapters to nine books, authored High-sensitivity, Low-noise Multi-axis Capacitive Micro-accelerometers for inertial sensing applications and holds four U.S. patents.
Junseok received his BS in metallurgical engineering from Korea University in 1998. He earned his MS and PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan in 2000 and 2003 respectively.
Our condolences go out to his family, friends, colleagues and students.
Abbas Abbaspour-Tamijani, Senior Staff Engineer at Qualcomm
“Junseok joined ASU a year after I did. We were coming from the same graduate school and although we had not met before ASU, like old comrades who have fought in the same battle we immediately formed a brotherly bond. His office was a short walk from mine and we would spend countless hours talking about work, students, research, and our plans for the future. When he got married, he had a small ceremony in Phoenix, the big one was planned for later that year in Korea. I was one of the only two ASU colleagues who attended his Phoenix wedding. Later when I was getting married he was one of the only two ASU colleagues who were present. We took our first trip to NSF together. We wrote proposals, discussed the students, and worked on projects together.
Jun was a great researcher, a caring educator, and a proud father. But what struck me the most was his generosity of spirit. He was endlessly generous with his knowledge, his resources, his work, his time, and above all he was always kind. When I had questions about MEMS or microfabrication he was my go to guy and I never hesitated to ask for his help. If he had a piece of equipment in his lab, he would go out of his way to let me know that I was welcome use it. When we worked together he would never keep score of who did what and did whatever it took to produce the best result. And although he worked very hard and was almost always busy, he received me with a kind smile and never made me feel unwelcome when I barged into his office.
As new professors, we had many setbacks and occasional moments of glory. But the happiest moments I remember him were not when his paper was published or research proposal was funded, but when his children were born. Once became a father he immediately changed his screen saver to an endless collage of his giggling babies and he was always excited to tell stories about the joys and challenges of having two young children.
I never imagined that such a beautiful life could be cut so abruptly. I miss him very dearly and my heart goes out to his family and friends.”
David Allee, Professor and Associate Director
“Junseok Chae was an excellent researcher, teacher, colleague and golf partner. I have worked with him for many years starting with joint projects at the Flexible Display Center. He will be deeply missed.”
Constantine A. Balanis, Regents Professor
“Junseok was an excellent teacher, a great researcher and above all an outstanding person with always a smile. He was kind and soft spoken.
One semester my class followed his in the same room. I always looked forward to see and chat with Junseok between our classes about ECEE education and research, as we had a mutual area of research interest. He will be missed as a friend and colleague. A great loss.
Our deepest sympathy and condolences to his family”.
Daniel Bliss, Professor
“My heart goes out to Junseok’s family. Junseok was an irrepressible source of optimism, energy, and enthusiasm. In our conversations, his passion for research at ASU was infections. Junseok worked tirelessly to help all of us in ASU Engineering to achieve our research goals. We will miss him as a colleague and a friend.”
Hung Cao, Assistant Professor – UC Irvine
“I met Junseok in my first NSF panel in 2015 during my first year being a professor. My first impression was he is very kind, professional and he has a great smile. We talked and he told me lots of things about academia and how to be successful. I learned those wholehearted and they did help me a lot! We then met several other times in conferences and meetings. Though we have never had a joint project, I always see Junseok as a respectful colleague, and a sweet senior friend to look up to and follow. Earlier this year, I invited him to come to UC Irvine to give a talk for our seminar series for grad students in our EECS department. We had to cancel the event due to COVID-19 and we actually communicated on Mar 24, one day before the incident. I still can’t believe it! Junseok and I even talked about our families, we had children at the same age range. I can’t imagine how hard it has been for his wife and children. It is a big loss to the whole world!”
Yu Cao, Professor
“Junseok had the true passion for teaching, research and life. Talking with him always motivated me, no matter it was a peaceful or stormy day. R.I.P.”
Suren Jayasuriya, Assistant Professor
“Junseok was a mentor for me when I joined ASU in 2018. We traveled to DC together for two days for a program on engaging funding sponsors, and he personally arranged meetings for me with program managers as well as spent many hours talking to me about faculty life in the breaks between meetings and over lunch. He was a great researcher and teacher, and he loved his family. I still remember a story he told me that he was worried about grey hairs starting to appear on his head, by saying: “my daughter called me Grandpa!” in astonishment. I’m going to miss my lunches with him, and his confidence and encouragement in me. Rest in peace Junseok.”
Sule Ozev, Professor
“Junseok was my office neighbor practically since I joined ASU in 2008. My first interaction with him was through a course that we both taught. I asked him for his notes to make copies. He not only provided them in a very organized manner but found the right person to ask to do the copying for me as I was still learning to navigate the building. Junseok became my friend to talk about anything related to the department and we continued being neighbors after our move to a different building.
In addition to being brilliant, he was very passionate about his work, both in terms of research and in terms of teaching. He took every white paper, every publication, every proposal seriously, with great passion for the kind of work he was proposing. I have seen this firsthand when I worked with him on a proposal, which unfortunately did not get funded. He treated his students with respect during his meetings and brainstorming sessions. He was devoted as a teacher too. He always looked for alternatives to make learning a better experience for students. Just before he went missing, he was putting a lot of thought and effort into how to deliver an exam via online methods for students who were originally in the on-campus section.
Junseok always had a smile on his face. If he ever got upset or disappointed, I could never tell as he always looked at the bright side of things. Every time he came into the building, he tried taking the stairs as a form of exercise. Trying to open the door while out of breath, he would tell me that “he was out of shape”. Of course, he was panting because he climbed the stairs too quickly but that became a joke between us.
I am still on shock and deeply saddened by this loss. I will miss him dearly. Rest in peace, my friend.”
Joseph Palais, Professor Emeritus
“Junseok Chae was a warm, friendly gentleman. He could always be counted upon for a smile and a pleasant word. His passing was an unspeakable tragedy. He will be remembered. My condolences to his family on the loss of an irreplaceable member. I will miss him.”
Lalitha Sankar, Associate Professor
“While I had seen Junseok many times during faculty meetings, my first meaningful interactions with him was when he was an Associate Dean of research. He helped me as much as he could in providing information about ASU internal grants. He invited me to internal discussions and meetings related to my research. This may not seem impressive until one realizes that his research is quite distinctly different from mine and that he must have put a lot of effort into bringing together the right researchers. We live in times of intense work pressures with little time to appreciate and understand work far afield from our own. He was willing to listen, understand and help bring groups together.
My heart goes out to his family. I hope they find peace in celebrating his short yet rich life. You will be missed, Junseok.”
Jae-sun Seo, Professor
Prof. Junseok Chae and I had a lot in common – we both graduated from the University of Michigan, we had mutual friends from Michigan, and we were both from South Korea. Since I first joined ASU in 2014, Prof. Chae willingly helped me a lot personally as well as professionally. He warmly welcomed me and invited me to a dinner at his house with his lovely family. He gave me a lot of tips on faculty life, proposal writing, research group management and so on.
Even when he was very busy with deadlines, when I had a question for him, no matter what that question was, he always kindly spared time to listen to me, had a nice conversation with me, and provided his candid perspective of things. I will always appreciate that.
I will especially miss his bright smile, our occasional lunch gatherings, and our random conversations at the 5th floor of ISTB4 when we ran into each other.
I still cannot really believe that he is not around anymore. My sincere condolences to his family and dear friends.
George Trichopoulos, Assistant Professor
“I am not sure how to express my thoughts about Junseok’s pass, it has deeply saddened me.
I had met Junseok before joining ASU, he was part of the search committee, at the end I think he was one of the main reasons I joined ASU.
Being one of the first people I knew at ASU, he would often be the person to go when I had questions as a new assistant professor. He was like a mentor and I admired his energy and willingness to help. I got my first lecture notes from him as well as tips on my NSF CAREER proposal, he was so generous.
I am really saddened by his loss, our department is smaller without him. But also on a personal level, he was always there, full of energy and inspiring.
My condolences to his family and friends.”
Sarma Vrudhula, Professor
“Many have commented about Junseok’s outstanding scholarship. He was a scientist of the highest caliber and a true engineer’s engineer. But my memories of him are of his sweet nature, a kind heart, a loyal friend and colleague. He also had a great and wicked sense of humor. If there is reincarnation, then he is surely coming back: I lost a bet to him and he was planning to collect at the end of the semester.”
Junseok was such a kind, genuine, and engaging person. We bonded over both health and safety as well as the research being done by his students. I can remember one time at a “coffee on the crater carpet” get together – he spotted me and came over all smiles. He was so excited to chat all about the cool research that his students were doing. His passions for both mentoring his students and their innovative research always shone through. I will never forget his grace, kindness, and smile.
April MacCleary, Assistant Director Research Advancement, Post Award & Finance
“I remember Junseok being dedicated to everything he did. He worked very hard to be an administrator, educator, researcher, colleague and father. What stands out the most in my memory was how much Junseok enjoyed spending time with his kids. During one of our last conversations, he told me he wanted to take his children on a long camping trip because they loved going. It was so obvious to me how much he loved his kids and being their dad. I’ll miss him.”
Cynthia Moayedpardazi, Business Operations Manager
“The first time I met Junseok was when he stopped by my counter looking for a faculty member. I asked him for his student ID. He smiled and told me he was faculty. After that, it was a running joke between him and me and how young he looked. I had the pleasure of knowing this wonderful, lovely man for 15 years and in that time, he would contact me for my input on various matters. Although this man was brilliant, he always respected my expertise in my field and that was always appreciated. When he dropped into the main office, we would talk about our kids. Mine were much older than his, but he would ask me for parenting tips and share the funny stories about his. The last time we talked about our kids, he told me that I could no longer refer to his youthful looks because he was beginning to gray and one of his kids referred to him as grandpa. My heart is saddened by his passing and I will miss his kindness, his humor, and wonderful smile. His legacy will remain with us and for years to pass through the wonderful research work he accomplished and how he approached life.”
Joelina Peck, Assistant Director Research Advancement
“I absolutely enjoyed working with Professor Chae. He would always walk into my office with a big smile on his face and a warm hello how are you. What I appreciated about him was that before he jumped to work business and needs, he would take the time to see how things were going and what was exciting in our world. He was very passionate and very enthusiastic about sharing his research and his excitement on the new breakthroughs. He was always sure to send his gratitude and appreciation to us for our assistance with his grants. He was also a volunteer for several of our ECEE Career panels to help guide junior faculty in their early career proposals. He was always happy and always with a smile.”
Joe Kullman, Science Writer, Marketing & Communications
“I worked with Junseok Chae several times over the years for articles I wrote about his research and education endeavors. He was professional, personable and humorous. He clearly demonstrated his dedication to his work, especially his teaching and his students. I last met with him earlier this year. During our interview for the article, Junseok talked about his life and career path from Korea to the United States and to ASU, and about his aspirations for the future. He talked about his attachment to ASU and Arizona. He was married here and his children were born here, and now, he said, “I feel this is my home.” That came to mind when I heard of his death, making it feel all the more tragic. I won’t forget those words and how they reflect what’s most important in life.”
Craig Smith, Director Strategic Marketing & Communications – Engineering Communications
“I will always remember his smile and kind hello, without fail.”
I remember when Professor Chae told us about a time when he tried to replace the battery in his IPhone by himself. He said that even though he was a professor of Electrical Engineering he wasn’t able to successfully change the battery in his phone and had to take it in for repairs. This made me admire Chae because he was someone of such vast knowledge and technical skill, but wasn’t ashamed of admitting he needed help. He was a true engineer and a great man.
“Professor Chae taught me Circuits 2 at ASU. He was an incredible teacher who helped make a very difficult subject fun and easy to learn. During some of the lighter moods during class, he spoke lovingly of his family. After successfully completing the engineering program, I can say with utmost respect that he is a professor that stood out among the rest and I’m grateful to have had him as a teacher. Sending prayers for Professor Chae’s family during this difficult time.”
Sang hee Lee
“Professor Jun-Seok Chae was my MS advisor. He helped me a lot and advised me on how to solve the problem. Also, the professor’s passion for research was very impressive. He will be remembered forever in our memory.”
“Professor Chae admitted me to his research group back in 2014 when he offered me the opportunity to come to the United States and pursue my PhD degree. Since then professor Chae has given me much help and guidance in both research and life. Under his encouragement and supervision, I have successfully published several high impact journal papers, with which I passed comprehensive exams and is now qualified for my defense. Without his insight, resources and instruction on how to conduct scientific research, I would have never got those achievements. I will always remember the help DR Chae gave to me and I wish to thank him from the bottom of my heart.
As an international immigrant, Dr. Chae shared a lot of experience with me on how to strife as an international student in a foreign country. He taught me the importance of establishing my own network and developing my communication skills to better present myself. When I encountered failure or made mistakes, Dr. Chae would always encourage me to look at the bright side. He also tried to provide financial support to me as much as possible. I remembered he once offered me additional financial support because I have some difficulties in finding a roommate. I always thought of Dr. Chae as a mentor in academia and a friend in life.”
“I was able to meet Dr. Chae in mid-March 2020 as part of my visit to be considered for a Dean’s Fellowship. Even though our research interests were not perfectly matched, we were able to have an amazing breakfast where we discussed so much about our professional and personal lives. He treated me with so much warmth and kindness, showed me his lab with extreme passion, and just in general was a fantastic professor and person. That visit to ASU was the last thing I did before beginning to shelter in place for COVID, and the warm memories he created helped to carry me through these times. With much care, Mason.”
“I had the pleasure of being in Dr. Chae’s circuits 2 course. As a Korean American myself, Dr. Chae was a person that I looked up to. His kind personality and calm manner was very admirable. I will always remember his stories about him camping with his children. You could tell how much he loved his children. I was heartbroken for his family when I found out about his passing. He was a great educator and an even greater person. My deepest condolences to his friends and family. The world lost a great man. May he rest in peace.”
“I first met Dr. Chae when I took his session for Circuits 2 in my Sophomore year. After expressing my interest in his research, he encouraged me to pursue my interests and apply to the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative, where he would become my mentor. With his guidance, I was able to not only do meaningful work through my FURI projects, but also to explore the challenges of additional, cross-disciplinary research within his research group and pursue my passion for engineering and science.
Dr. Chae was a true inspiration to those around him. He always pushed his students to be the very best they could be, while at the same time always offering his help and making accommodations for those who needed them. With his brilliant mind, kind heart, and great sense of humor, his presence was a privilege to those who knew him and a gift to the entire world. A truly unique and strong individual, Dr. Chae was a husband, a father, a scientist, an engineer, a teacher, a mentor, and a friend, and I hope that his legacy will continue to inspire future students in the same way it has inspired myself and so many others.”
“Professor Chae was a great man. I had the great privilege of being his student and respected him greatly. In my opinion, he was by far one of the best professors at ASU! I remember the short, funny stories that he would share to help some of the students nodding off regain focus…He shared about his wife and kids and how he didn’t want to take his time with them for granted. He truly loved being a father and adored his family very much. In addition to being an amazing father, he was an amazing teacher! He truly cared about his students. I’ll forever be indebted to him for the impact that he’s made on my life. My deepest condolences to his family, friends and loved ones. RIP Professor Chae.”
“I am one of the many students that was enlighted by professor Chae to focus studying in circuit design area. He is a great mentor who has systematic teaching skill.”