Few monikers have seen the type of inversion as “nerd.” Although this label to those fixated and adept at all things technical was initially considered a dis, it is most certainly a title for the cool and esteemed in modern day society. While this is not the reason for Dongjae “Krystofer” Kim’s work with NASA, his association with this science and tech icon has increased his acclaim in nerd fandom. His work for this heralded organization has appeared in Time Magazine, the New York Times, and a number of the most well-known publications in existence as well as YouTube hits numbering in the multimillions. It’s a mutually cherished relationship as Krystofer relates, “NASA is the best place to work. I always joke that I found the perfect job right out of college and I’ve peaked. The people are lovely. The work culture and everything is very progressive, not at all what people expect from a government organization. There’s an almost indescribable feeling of driving by a big NASA logo on your morning commute.”
Kim has been at NASA since 2015 when he was hired by Wade Sisler, Executive Producer for Department of Communications at NASA Goddard Space Center and Conceptual Image Lab team. Working as lead animator with producer Genna Duberstein on animation projects like 2015’s “Lunar Eclipse” (which received four million views on YouTube) and 2017’s “Solar Eclipse” propelled Krystofer’s work into main stream exposure. Because these productions became public domain benefiting the science community and the general population, they were utilized by massive outlets like NatGeo and others to explain and describe these celestial occurrences. Duberstein primarily credits the ubiquitous popularity of these productions to Kim stating, “Krystofer is able to quickly grasp the science and make it accessible to a general audience. He has a fantastic sense of design and a knack for making tough topics appealing. I worked with Krystofer on a variety of science stories for the Heliophysics division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.” Some of these other projects include a two-page spread illustration in a Time Magazine Special Edition (“100 New Scientific Discoveries”), a New York Times Editorial Illustration (“One World Trade Center”), and even The NYC Downtown Short Film Festival (“The Matchbox”).
This stylized retro-feel yet full color illustrations and animation coupled with the information from NASA scientists is the perfect concoction to appeal to the masses. His work at NASA has given Krystofer a definitive cool factor for party conversations with strangers. Krystofer concedes, “I’ve always loved science. I was interested in how the world worked but I actually had some impediments to this love growing up in Korea. The Korean educational system divides students on two tracks, science/engineering or liberal arts. Because my math scores weren’t good enough at the end of middle school, I was not allowed take the Science track. I was always self-educating myself in scientific topics. I think this viewpoint of looking into science topics from an outsider’s perspective, always struggling to understand hard concepts and had to teach myself to gain understanding, was a great practice in being the conveyer of conceptual scientific topics to general public. I stand somewhere in between the scientists and the general public and be able to liaison. I’ve found my niche in an environment that I enjoy and find fulfilling.”