This past August, the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture welcomed new faculty member Sungmin Lee.
“My colleagues have all been very supportive, and the students at UConn are very smart,” Lee says. “My teaching goal is to help students improve their analytical skills, apply their skills to design solutions and maximize their achievements. I believe every student has a different learning style, set of skills and scope of interest.”
His research interest is sustainable landscape design that promotes human heath and physical activity while preventing injuries.
“My primary research is based on understanding and creating healthy and safe environments where people live and play, that encourage individual health and wellness for people of all ages,” Lee explains. “My research goal is to understand the underlying factors that influence the health and safety of individuals and to identify barriers to healthy living such as walking barriers, unsafe tree conditions and poor lighting.”
Lee earned his BS and MLA in landscape architecture and rural systems engineering from Seoul National University in South Korea and his Ph.D. in regional science, landscape architecture and urban planning at Texas A&M University. He spent four years as a landscape architect at the Tomoon Architects & Engineers’ Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design in Seoul and was a lecturer at Seoul National University.
“In addition to teaching, I was interested in gaining interdisciplinary experience by working in the field with architects and urban designers,” says Lee.
While pursuing his Ph.D. at Texas A&M, Lee was a lab manager for the university’s Design Research for Active Living Group, Center for Health Systems and Design, and instructor in landscape architecture and urban planning.
Lee received several awards for his research and design related to preventing falls in middle-aged and older adults, including the American Academy of Health Behavior Poster of Distinction Award, the American Public Health Association’s Rural and Environment Research Award and the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Excellence in Safety Research for Active Living Poster Award.
Lee is impressed with UConn’s landscape architecture program and with the beauty of northeastern Connecticut and its proximity to New York and Boston.
Lee relocated to Storrs with his wife, who is remotely completing her Ph.D. in recreation, park and tourism sciences with Texas A&M’s Department of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and their four-year-old daughter. His family appreciates the climate in Connecticut, which is similar to that of their home in South Korea, and he is looking forward to introducing his daughter to snow. Meanwhile, they are enjoying nearby restaurants; their favorite spot so far is the UConn Dairy Bar.