Chemistry graduate program alum Dr. Suk Cho, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of Joy Nutritionals, is no stranger to hard work. Guided by the mindset of “living life to the fullest”, he has seized numerous opportunities to expand his knowledge, gain experience, and truly develop as a scientist. The way he sees it, attitude is everything. “You don’t have to be the best chemist, and you don’t have to be the best manager,” he says. “But do your best.” His accomplishments have fueled his motivation, raising him through the ranks from graduate student to senior scientist to Chief Scientific Officer.
The path to Emory
After earning his undergraduate degree from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Dr. Cho attended Miami University, where he earned his master’s degree in organic chemistry. Having kept an eye on some of the great research going on here at Emory, he officially joined the Emory community in 1985 as a PhD student in the lab of Dr. Lanny Liebeskind.
“Suk Cho was a confident and strong PhD student during his tenure in graduate school at Emory University,” says Lanny. “His research generated high-quality scientific results and led to a number of significant peer-reviewed publications. I remember him as very personable, with an assured and engaging personality that, in retrospect, portended the future successes in his professional endeavors.”
Unexpected career pathways
Originally, Dr. Cho assumed he would use his expertise in chemistry to pursue a career in pharmacy. However, the more he learned about the importance of chemistry in the production of cosmetics, food, and other diverse products, he became more drawn to this side of research and development. “Everything is chemistry,” says Dr. Cho. “I’m very proud of becoming a chemist. I can apply it to just about everything.” As a curious, creative, and committed student, Dr. Cho felt confident that he could succeed in such an industry setting. Having assimilated to a new way of life after immigrating from Korea during his teenage years, Dr. Cho was prepared for a transition from academia to industry
With this can-do attitude and a freshly earned doctorate degree, Dr. Cho went on to work for Unilever, a company that strives to make sustainable living commonplace, supplying over 400 household brands from Dove and Vaseline to Lipton and Ben & Jerry’s. While working at Unilever, Dr. Cho was motivated to learn as much as he could about his industry. Beyond the basic chemistry behind the efficient production of household products, Dr. Cho learned about toxicology and environmental impact, large-scale production and its consequences, consumer demands, and sales and marketing. He also learned that these aspects of the industry truly guide the science behind production.
Dr. Cho went on to spend a brief couple of years as Sr. Scientist with PPG before becoming the Vice President of Research and Development at Melaleuca: The Wellness Company. In this role, he oversaw the production of hundreds of products for nutrition, personal care, skin care, and the household to be used around the globe. Dr. Cho then transitioned to Chief Science Officer at Isagenix, a company built to inspire and empower individuals to “live their best life through a journey of nutrition, health, and overall wellness.” He led the Product Innovation, Research and Science, Quality Assurance, and Regulatory teams at Isagenix, while also serving as Consultant/Owner of Ideate, LLC.
Giving everyone a chance for a healthy life
Now, with over 30 years of research and product development, he serves as Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Joy Nutritionals. With a mission to “promote healthy, energetic, active lifestyle choices”, Joy Nutritionals offers lifestyle-based solutions supported by science, community, and technology. The company strives to provide high quality, good-for-you products to promote everyday health and wellness. Dr. Suk Cho is responsible for developing such products, giving everybody a chance at a healthy life.
Echoing the messages of health and wellness that define his industry, Dr. Cho also hopes to encourage people to make decisions that guide them towards a healthier lifestyle. “A lot of our diseases stem from our poor lifestyle choices,” he says. “I want to advocate for investing in yourself mentally, physically, psychologically, and emotionally.” By reminding us to live life to the fullest, while protecting our health and well-being, Dr. Cho shows us a stunning example of how we, too, can find joy.
Inspiration for current Emory scholars…and those closer to home
While his work has broad potential impact, Dr. Cho has already inspired the work of a very important future leader – his daughter, Belle. The business major and chemistry minor is studying at the University of Arizona where she is focused on a future in game development. (Her first game, “Furthest Reach,” has a release date set for 2020.) “There has never been someone to inspire me as much as my father has,” says Belle. “My dad came to the United States from Korea when he was sixteen years old, knowing very little English and [the] school he attended wasn’t really ‘prepared’ for a non-English speaking student at that time. However, it didn’t stop him from going to college and majoring in one of the most challenging science fields. My outlook on education has changed so much in the last two years and I really have my dad to thank for that. I am grateful for the life I have and all the things he has provided for the family.”