South Korean behavioral ecologist, science educator, biodiversity conservationist and best-selling author Dr. Jae Chun Choe joins us on The PrimateCast to talk about his role in the development of evolutionary biology and behavioral ecology in Korea. Cecile Sarabian of Conservation Voices and Kyoto University Primate Research Institute graduate student Heungjin Ryu, also from South Korea, help introduce the interview.
Professor Choe, as he is respectfully and yet affectionately known to his numerous students that have passed through Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute, is Founding President of Korea's National Institute of Ecology and Professor and Chair in Behavioral Ecology at Ewha Women's University. After doing his graduate studies at Harvard with evolutionary biology giant E. O. Wilson, Professor Choe eventually returned to Seoul National University where he began to build this field from the ground up in his native Korea.
In the interview, which was conducted in early March 2015 at a Kyoto University Leading Graduate Program in Primatology and Wildlife Science annual symposium, Professor Choe briefly runs through his prestigious background before discussing evolutionary biology in South Korea. Throughout, the sincerity with which he approaches science, his students and the public is abundantly clear, as is the reason behind his portrayal by the Korean media as "the scientist with the mind of a poet"! He ends the interview discussing his role with the Conference of the Parties Convention on Biological Diversity, the establishment of the National Institute of Ecology (a must see!), and the impact that work done by him and his colleagues to enlighten the public about animal-related issues has had in 21st century Korea, a relatively new arrival to the scene of animal behavior, welfare and conservation.
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Photo credit: Jae Chun Choe / Joong Ang Ilbo