Korea’s most prominent researcher in the field

Korea's most prominent researcher in the field

In 2018, Professor Yong Sik Ok was verified as a Highly Cited Researcher (HCR) by Clarivate Analytics in the Cross-Field category. The title of HCR is conferred to scientists who demonstrate significant influence over the previous decade through the publication of highly cited papers. The title of HCR in any field is highly coveted in academia, and Prof. Ok continued to achieve greater heights after receiving the title for the first time.

In 2019, he earned the title of HCR for the second time, in the Environment and Ecology field—a first for any Korean researcher. What’s more, in 2021, he was verified as an HCR yet again, this time in two fields simultaneously—Environment and Ecology, and Engineering. This led to him being named an HCR in three Essential Science Indicator (ESI) categories: Environment and Ecology, Engineering, and Biology and Biochemistry, in 2022. Prof. Ok is the only HCR to be named in these 3 specific fields. To put this massive feat into perspective, it is important to note that of the 3981 HCRs in 2022, only 5.5% (219 HCRs) appeared in two ESI fields, and 0.8% (32 HCRs) did so in three or four fields.

Further, of a total of 6,938,000 researchers worldwide, these 32 researchers, including Prof. Ok, form a rare 0.0005% fraction. In simple terms, Prof. Ok belongs to this rare 0.8% fraction of HCRs and 0.0005% of all researchers globally, constituted of only 32 HCRs who appear in three or four ESI fields—a noble recognition for Korea University and South Korea. It is also worth noting that Prof. Ok has contributed to 107 Highly Cited Papers (HCPs).

Sustainability, along with meeting the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has emerged as a hot topic in academia over the last few decades, and with good reason. Pollution, climate change, and resource depletion are exerting great pressure on the world’s ecosystems, which are likely to collapse if no action is taken. Thus, the world needs scientists who can be strong leaders and active agents of change. In the global context, Prof. Ok is one such scientist who is striving to change the current state of affairs.

Prof. Ok currently serves as the Director of the Sustainable Waste Management Program for the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU SWM) and is the Co-President of the International Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Association. He also holds several important positions worldwide, including an honorary professorship at the University of Queensland (Australia), visiting professorship at Tsinghua University (China), which ranks 3rd on QS Asia University Rankings 2023, guest professorship at Ghent University (Belgium), and an adjunct professorship in Europe. In addition, he has strengthened his global professional network though his position as the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology (CREST, five-year impact factor: 13.2) at Taylor and Francis, which is an esteemed and highly ranked international journal that publishes cutting-edge research on UN SDGs and ESG.

Furthermore, he serves as an editorial advisory board member of Environmental Science & Technology, and as an editorial board member of Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews and Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, among several other journals of repute. Prof. Ok’s inclination towards international collaborative research is one of the many factors that have made these feats possible. He constantly strives to develop sustainable strategies and technologies in his areas of expertise and has remarkable networking skills.

As a world-class leader in environmental science and engineering, UN SDGs, and ESG, Prof. Ok constantly tries to translate his research into practical applications beyond academia and the echelons of government and industry.

He stresses the need to meet the UN SDGs, to which he has contributed significantly. He owns the highest number of SDG-related publications at Korea University. To ensure that the research transcends beyond just publications, Prof. Ok has also worked with the Scientific Organizing Committee of the P4G Nature Forum: Climate Change and Biodiversity and the Nature Forum: Plastics and Sustainability. Additionally, he has served as the chair for several major conferences, including the Engineering Sustainable Development series (ESD series), put together by APRU and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

Prof. Ok has also hosted the first Nature conference in Seoul, which saw attendance from several South Korean university representatives. The conference dealt with issues related to sustainable waste management and valorization for a better future, conducted in association with the Chief Editors of Nature Sustainability, Nature Electronics, and Nature Nanotechnology in 2021. Further, he also partnered with Nature journal to host the first Nature Forum on ESG for Global Sustainability: The “E” Pillar for Sustainable Business in August 2022, was in Seoul.

With all these achievements under his belt, Prof. Ok is an inspiring scientist whom we should all learn from and support to help pave the way for a sustainable and green future.

About Korea University

Established in 1905, Korea University is one of the oldest institutions in the country. For the past five years, Korea University has been ranked as one of the top 100 universities in the world by the QS World University Rankings. It is a large and respected research institution, notable in South Korean history for being the first educational institution to offer academic programs in Korea in various disciplines, such as law, economics, and journalism. It has 59 academic departments and programs organized into 17 colleges and schools. There are currently more than 37,000 students enrolled and just over 5,000 faculty.

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About the Author: Isaac Washington

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