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Shi En Kim


I’m a graduate student in molecular engineering studying 2D nanomaterials, which my research group calls the world’s thinnest paper. Like regular office paper, our atomically thin paper can be cut, stacked, patterned and folded; my research goal is to leverage such techniques to engineer new properties in these materials. I grew up in Malaysia dreaming to become a fiction writer, an illustrator, an animator and a scientist at different points in my life. I had discrete loves for science and storytelling, but I was oblivious to the existence of popular science media and never imagined that these loves could be reconciled. Studying abroad in the States opened my mind up to the possibilities of a career in science writing. Now, I freelance on the side and have written for outlets such as National Geographic, Scientific American, Ensia, Slate and others. I credit outlets/organizations such as Physics World, Massive Science, Temblor Earthquake News, NPR Scicommers and the science departments at my current institution, the University of Chicago, for setting me on the path of science writing. During non-pandemic times, I enjoy fencing and backpacking across alpine terrains — starkly different landscapes from the Malaysian tropics where I was born. As a nature lover and museum maniac, I’m pumped to be writing for Smithsonian Magazine this summer! 



Shi En Kim looks over her shoulder. She's wearing a hiking shirt and there's a mountain in the background.

University of Chicago

Fellowship Sponsor: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Fellowship Host: Smithsonian Magazine