open menu


‘I Want to Understand’

Engineer-scientist Su Kyung Suh ’20 finds the answers in patent law. 

Photograph by Diana Levine

Student Snapshot

Provenance: Korea. Tri-National Student: Summa cum laude grad Pohang University of Science and Engineering, Korea; semester exchange program Birmingham, England; PhD chemical engineering MIT. Early Career: At Samsung developed solar cells using nanoparticles. Applying Science: Currently a patent agent at Choate, Hall & Stewart. For Fun: Date night with her husband—“We try to go to a restaurant once a week”—and family movie night with their two sons. Favorite Food: Kimchi. Guilty Pleasure: Beer. “I love sour beer.”

One of the reasons I wanted to be an engineer was that I liked building stuff: Legos, helicopters, anything I could assemble.I came to America from Korea to study chemical engineering at MIT. Chemical engineers build systems that facilitate larger scale.

After graduating, I worked at Samsung developing quantum dot solar cells. It takes a long time before actual people can use the technologies that are being developed. My team received one patent while I was at Samsung, and I helped explain the science to the patent lawyers. I liked the process of thinking about why a particular technology is novel and inventive. It was fun. I also saw how patents move technology out of the science community and into people’s hands.

In 2014 I left Samsung and started working at Choate, Hall & Stewart after learning there were jobs there for staff scientists. That October, I passed the patent bar and became a patent agent at the firm. I switched to working part-time when I started law school.

I decided to go to law school because, as an engineer-scientist, I’m curious to know what’s at the bottom of anything—the science/technology or the law: the principles, and where they’re coming from. That’s me.

But law school meant starting again from the bottom, so it was frustrating. The first year can be so challenging because it is all new. I felt so small.

I just love learning in general. It’s awesome that every single law professor is an expert and they’re telling us what’s important in their field. That’s huge. And after nearly three years at BC Law, I feel that I know this country better; I hadn’t even read the Constitution before law school.

Now, I can put the science/technology and the law together. A law firm needs someone who can understand the science/technology that is being patented and then transfer that knowledge into the patent application.
I am the person who understands both.