Meet new faculty member Sohyun Park

Sohyun Park
Sohyun Park

This past August, Sohyun Park joined the College as assistant professor of landscape architecture in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture.

“I knew this program had such potential for collaborative opportunities with other programs such as plant science and natural resources,” Park says. “I thought this was a great fit and will allow me to explore the relationship between science and design.”

Park was drawn to New England. She says, “One day I asked my daughter to draw a mountain and she colored it brown. We were not able to see a lot of forests in our previous home. We were in need of a dose of nature.” Park moved to the Storrs area with her fifteen-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter. Her husband will join the family when he completes his Ph.D. in education at Texas Tech.

“Right now, I’m getting to know everyone and the programs. The department head and faculty are very supportive, and I’ve joined several committees.”

Park earned her BS degree in biology at Sookmyung Women’s University in Korea, a master’s in landscape architecture (MLA) from Seoul National University and Ph.D. in environmental design and planning at Arizona State University. She also earned a certification in designing early childhood outdoor environments from North Carolina State University, in addition to a designation of SITES Accredited Professional, which is a new credential administered by the Green Business Certification Inc. to promote sustainable land design and environmental stewardship.

Her research in landscape ecology and planning focuses on managing and shaping cities with open spaces and parks that promote ecosystem services and human health. “I look at the pattern of those ecosystems and green space and the relationship between the function of these spaces.”

Park is currently involved in a four-year grant that was awarded while she was an assistant professor at Texas Tech. The grant is funded through the US National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program, designed to develop a framework that increases public awareness of battlefield landscapes with communication tools such as augmented reality depicting wartime scenes.

“My personal goal is to relate my teaching and research in a coherent manner so that each complements the other to benefit my students,” Park says. “The students at UConn are so engaged and I want to nurture our future landscape architects who will be responsible for our environmental stewardship. Landscape architecture is beyond what people think—it’s more than just trees and gardens but involves a pretty broad scope. I want my students to be well-rounded in terms of the newest technology, but also understand how we can make these outdoor spaces sustainable and resilient.”

Four teams of Park’s students entered the Hartford Dream Green competition and one won the second prize.

“I am looking forward to collaborative research,” Park says. “I am hoping to work with my colleagues to develop an MLA degree program that will increase department interest and enrollment.”

Park is also interested in working to upgrade the landscape architecture technology and expertise available within the department.

By Kim Colavito Markesich