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Lee Selected for Prestigious Science Communicators Fellowship

Dr. Kyungsun Lee
Dr. Kyungsun Lee

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock professor has been selected for an academic fellowship that supports early-career researchers studying science communication related to water issues.

Dr. Kyungsun Lee, assistant professor of geography and coordinator of the geography minor at UA Little Rock, has been named to the second cohort of the SciComm Identities Projects Fellowship. Lee was one of 14 people selected to participate in this innovative science communication fellowship for pre-tenure faculty of color.

“I am really excited about this fellowship,” Lee said. “I’ve long had an interest in science communication, but there are not many training opportunities in this area. I feel that this workshop will give me a chance to break barriers. It is good to learn new skills, meet new colleagues, and I am so happy to be a part of this fellowship.”

As a SciComm Identities Projects Fellow, Lee will receive a $5,000 grant, participate in several science communication trainings, and produce a podcast related to her research. This year’s fellowship is focused on water, and fellows study issues that range from disaster management to irrigation management strategies.

As an interdisciplinary environmental social scientist, Lee’s research focuses on investigating the governance of socio-technical systems for urban water sustainability transitions. She is particularly interested in the social-political aspects of unconventional freshwater resources, including desalination, wastewater reuse, and stormwater management systems. Her recent research examines how desalination technology is developed, diffused, and implemented in specific locations, and the role of key stakeholders and their networks in each of these processes.

The University of Rhode Island’s (URI) Metcalf Institute, Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, and the URI Science and Story Lab launched the SciComm Identities Project to prepare the next generation of science communicators from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds.

The project, which is supported by a $2.8 million collaborative National Science Foundation grant, addresses a significant gap in science communication research and training by centering the motivations, experiences, and priorities of racial and ethnic minority scientists.

During the five-year program, the SciComm Identities Project will help more than 40 early-career researchers become effective science communicators and produce 10 podcast episodes per year. Lee plans to create her podcast on the Arkansas River.

“One of my research interests is the life cycle of water, food, energy, and access to water sources,” she said. “The Arkansas River is very important. It runs from Colorado to the Mississippi River. I would like to talk about how the human-nature relationship affects the Arkansas River and focus on the impact of climate change.”

Lee will present her research to UA Little Rock during an Evenings with History presentation during the spring 2025 semester.