In Memoriam: ChoKyun Rha, 1933-2021

ChoKyun Rha, a former professor of biomaterials science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, died in Boston on March 2. She was 87 years old.

A native of Seoul, South Korea, her father was a prominent medical doctor who was a pioneer in anatomy, and she developed an interest early in chemical engineering, food science, and food technologies for the development of new foods, medicines, and chemicals. Rha came to the United States in 1956 with the intention of attending MIT and the idea of learning how to design and produce high-quality baby food for families in South Korea.

She earned four degrees at MIT and then joined the faculty and taught there for 40 years. She was the first woman of Asian descent to be awarded tenure at MIT.

Dr. Rha published more than 200 research papers and held more than 20 patents. She was also a founding member of Women’s World Banking, which provides support to microfinance institutions that offer credit to low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world, especially women.

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