5 Questions for a Scientist: Inventor and Biomedical Engineer Jason Kang

The gap between the science classroom and a real-life career in the sciences can seem distant for some students. The 5 Questions for a Scientist interview series was created to bridge this gap! We aim to inspire students to pursue careers in the sciences by showcasing the incredible diversity of STEM careers by talking to scientists themselves. See all of the interviews here.

Get to know Jason

Occupation: Co-Founder and CEO
Institution: Kinnos, Inc.
Field: Biomedical engineering
Focus: Disinfectants

Jason is CEO and co-founder of Kinnos, Inc., a company working to raise the standard of infectious disease decontamination to protect healthcare workers, patients, and the general public. Their first product, Highlight®, is a patent-pending additive that greatly improves visibility, coverage, and end-user compliance of disinfectants. Prior to founding Kinnos, Jason served as Vice President of Engineering at Jibon Health Technologies, where he invented a medical device to treat postpartum hemorrhaging.

For his innovative work in global health, Jason served as a U.S. Delegate at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, a Fellow of the Kairos Society, and a 2017–2018 AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassador and was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 in Healthcare. In 2016, Jason received his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Columbia University, where he was an Egleston Scholar and graduated Tau Beta Pi.

In his free time, Jason runs along the Hudson River and plays soccer, and his favorite hobby is cooking and eating amazing food. (His favorite food is ramen.) To learn more about Jason or ask him questions, you can connect with him at Linkedin or on Twitter or via email.

1. Explain what you do in your work in one sentence (or two!).
We help protect doctors and patients from infections by colorizing disinfectants like bleach with our Highlight technology. The color allows people to make sure the entire surface is fully covered with disinfectant, and then the color will fade to clear over time to indicate in real-time when decontamination is done.

2. When did you first become interested in your field?
I've always been interested in health and medicine, but I don't think I ever imagined that I would be working with disinfectants. Back when I was a junior in college in 2014, my school held a competition to help the healthcare workers battle the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. I joined the competition with two of my best friends and we ended up coming up with a good solution to an important problem. Although we never planned to start a company, our technology had the potential to protect a lot of people so we decided to just go for it.

3. What is your favorite part of being a scientist or of science in general?
The best part of science is experimenting! It's like solving a puzzle or finishing a quest in a video game, and the end result usually solves a problem or helps people. There's nothing more exciting than being the first person to ever discover something new and then using that knowledge to impact society in a positive way.

4. What is a typical day like for you as a scientist?
Every day is different, especially when you work to turn your discoveries into an invention and bring it to people to use. Some days, I'll be in the lab testing out a new formula and learning about different chemical properties. Other days, I'll be traveling to conferences around the U.S. to present our work or going to hospitals to get feedback on our product from end-users. During my senior year of college, I skipped two weeks of school to field-test our invention with Ebola healthcare workers in Liberia.

5. Do you have any advice for young people interested in science today?
The best way to learn something is to try it out. I use a philosophy I call the "Mythbusters approach" a lot—build it, test it, and then see what happens. Sometimes theory and logic don't match reality, and that's when the most exciting discoveries happen.


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