All Articles by jeffhoron

31 Articles

Single-Serving Friends – Overnight in Gangnam-gu [강남], Seoul, South Korea

With a trip to Seoul, South Korea on the horizon, I find myself reflecting on the single-serving friends I made during my first visit there.  I say ‘single-serving’ because I never expected to see, or think of, or feel much about them again.  Little did I know that I would feel deeply for them over the months that followed.

It started with a 24 hour layover in Seoul.  On the heels of the incredible popularity of PSY’s Gangnam Style – the song being a jab at poseurs living large in the wealthy Gangnam-gu neighborhood – how could I resist a taste of the Korean good life?

I arrived at Incheon International Airport [ICN] in the late afternoon, cleared customs with my colorful visitor information form, and booked a bus ticket for the long ride into the city for ₩15,000 (about $15).  I had already settled in on the Ritz-Carlton in the Gangnam-gu neighborhood, after reading a review that commented: “There is nothing here that a tourist would be interested in.”  Sold!

My suite had two computerized commodes with heated seats, and a curious smoke mask that looked more like a supervillain transformation kit.

Out in the bitterly cold February night air, it was getting dark and the restaurants in the nearby alleys were already teeming with nightlife.

I found a pork barbecue restaurant by spotting its neon pig. I settled in and opted for the full portion of do-it-yourself barbecue.  My hosts stoked my in-table hibachi and brought me various cuts of pork and a wide array of mix-and-match sides and sauces, explaining popular preparations for each.

I tended my pork carefully, but apparently not to local standards, given how often the host tended to me versus other patrons.  He was my first single-serving friend.

The only thing that might throw the average Western traveler was that water was served from a used plastic bottle. I drank it anyway without consequence. Your mileage may vary.

Back on the street, it was darker out and even more bitterly cold.  I walked up and down the lanes to take it all in. I walked for an hour before seeing another Westerner.  I stood out at 200 lbs and sporting a full beard.  Some people gave me a wide berth on the street.

I checked out the Gangnam Style sign and watched groups of young Koreans bubble up from the train stations below ground.

I ventured across a major thoroughfare into a more residential neighborhood. I found stalls displaying goods late into the night.

Finally succumbing to the cold, I headed back to the Ritz for the ultimate Gangnam experience, club Eden. As I strolled up to the entrance, a Ferarri and other high-end European cars rolled in.  Cover was a bit steep at ₩30,000 (about $30), but included your first drink (Miller High Life were ₩10,000, $10).  It was among the most intense nightclubs I’d ever been in.  First and foremost, deafeningly loud.  Music, lights, fog, confetti, mirrors, lasers, and air jets all assaulting your senses.  Some patrons threw their arms around me, saying “celebrity” and gesturing at my beard and all of the Western (read: Hollywood) connotations that came along with it.  I made some more single-serving friends.

The next morning, ears still numb from Eden, I noticed that many young women were dressed in the traditional Hanbok.  They were celebrating the “Festival of the Moon,” as they called it for me in English, although I think “Lunar New Year” may be more common.  One young woman greeting guests at the Ritz posed for a photo with me.  She seemed disappointed for me that I only had the prior evening and the remainder of the morning in the city.

I headed out for a walking lunch of dried squid and bottled double espresso.

My last single-serving friend was a young woman who gave me an approving nod and smile after taking note of my lunch.

In the days that followed, tensions would escalate with North Korea enough to draw global attention.  I thought back to everyone I’d met and the lingering pain they must feel from separation, the longing to reunite, the acute stress of a hostile neighbor, and the redoubling of the pain knowing that families may be split across both sides of a violent conflict.

I think back on my single-serving friends from time to time and wish them well.

Rewards of the Road Less Traveled – Black’s Beach, La Jolla, California

The road less traveled is so for a reason.  Sometimes there’s no comfort, no companion, no certainty, no room for error and no safety net, or no way back.  But sometimes, at the end of the road, the reward is welcoming respite, a singular sensory experience, and pure magic.

That was the case for me at Black’s Beach, La Jolla, California.  It wasn’t the easiest to find, with a walking path originating at the intersection of two winding residential streets, behind a nondescript black gate.  The walk down was long – and the walk up longer, but the amazing sunset against the slight fog hanging in front of the cliffs made it all worthwhile.

(click to view larger)

If you’d like to get to Black’s Beach, UCSD maintains a convenient guide: Black’s Beach: Access and Safety ‘Beautiful but dangerous’

Using Network Analysis to Increase the Impact of Center Grant and Team Science Proposals – NORDP 2012

At the National Organization of Research Development Professionals [NORDP] 2012 conference, I spoke about using network analysis to increase the impact of center grant and team science proposals, including researcher collaboration, topic identification, and team formation.

Download the presentation: PDF

If you are not familiar with network analysis, you might want to check out my earlier presentation Approachable Network Analysis first.

Data-Driven Matching for Fostering Relationships among Scientists: Quantitative Assistance for a Human-Centered Process – Science of Team Science 2012

Download our poster: PDF


Jeff Horon, MBA, Elsevier, Inc.
Meredith Riebschleger, MD, University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital

SciTS Topic

Other (Methods for Team Formation / Researcher Networking)

Key Words

Team Formation, Researcher Networking, Data-Driven Networking, Interventional Networking, Algorithm-Based Matching, Dyads, Mentoring, Mentor-Mentee


Data-driven matching of scientists for the purpose of fostering working relationships has the potential to improve and expedite the matching process. The AMIGO Steering Committee, which matches Pediatric Rheumatology mentors and mentees nationally, employed survey data and a matching algorithm to expedite matching of mentor-mentee dyads. In pilot testing, the group matched 20 dyads from pools of 20 mentees and 49 mentors, completing the process in only 1 hour. Early indicators are that these matches were well-formed. The project team continues to track the experimental (algorithm-assisted pilot) group against the control (human-only matching process) group. These findings invite further study by team science researchers working to predict successful team formation in the matching of dyads and larger groups of scientists. These findings also suggest new best practices for practitioners of scientist matching.

Typically, such a third party matching is accomplished using human judgment about an implicitly calculated probability for success, but in situations where many matches are required, the complexity of the problem quickly scales beyond human limits like available time and memory capacity.

Using data-driven matching via algorithms can provide meaningful assistance. Algorithms can account for more persons and more facts per person during the matching process and can evaluate a significantly higher number of potential matches. Importantly, data-driven matching is not mutually exclusive with human-driven matching. The AMIGO Steering Committee used the output of the data-driven match process as an input to the human-driven match process.

Beyond the remarkable time savings involved in matching 20 dyads in an hour, preliminary results reflecting match quality are positive. Of these dyads, 9 met in person at an event following the match process. As of one month after the initial match (with 20 of 20 dyads responding), 19 of the dyads had made initial contact, 13 had exchanged CVs, and 15 had spent at least 30 minutes in discussion of the mentee’s career. One dyad had to be re-matched for reasons not captured in the questionnaire.

The project team anticipates expanding the process to more mentor-mentee dyads in the future and adjusting the algorithm based upon further analysis of how the results of the human matching process differed from the algorithm matching process.

Further study is suggested for the formation of larger groups.

Connect and Collaborate: Current Approaches to Research Networking – NCURA Region IV/V Spring Meeting 2012

Dr. Oliver Bogler [ @MDAnderson_GAP ] and I presented on current approaches to research networking at the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) Regions IV and V.

View Dr. Bogler’s presentation: Prezi

(My portion of the presentation was primarily a live demonstration of current research networking solutions and was not recorded)


The research landscape is increasingly interdisciplinary and international in nature, and competition for funding is more intense than ever. Institutions want to enhance collaboration between researchers and between institutions to drive interdisciplinary research and secure more funding. While scholars know many of their key colleagues in their own fields of study, they often struggle to find appropriate collaborators outside of their disciplines. Research networking tools and national research networking initiatives are being implemented at many leading research institutions in the United States to help researchers find collaborators. International interest and participation in research networking is also growing. This session will explore some of the research networking initiatives in place today and showcase The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s development of a global cancer network.

Oliver Bogler, Sr. VP Academic Affairs, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Jeff Horon, Consultant, Elsevier