Research grant awarded to Communication Associate Professor

Project looks at neighborhood infrastructure, particularly in underserved communities

Monday, Apr 08, 2024 • Christy Brady :

Chunke Su HeadshotDr. Chunke Su, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, has secured a $144,584 grant from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Smart and Connected Communities (SCC) program. This grant will fund a one-year planning project entitled "WECAN Smart Toolkit: Wellbeing Enhancement through Crowd-sourced Assessment of Neighborhood-infrastructure," commencing on May 1, 2024.

“I am thrilled to receive this NSF grant,” he said. “It enables an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration to explore the impacts of neighborhood social and infrastructure networks on community well-being, particularly in underserved communities.” 

As co-PI, Dr. Su collaborates with a team of researchers from civil engineering, computer science, and behavioral science at SMU and Northwestern University to pioneer an interdisciplinary approach to address and mitigate inequities in neighborhood infrastructure, particularly in underserved communities. 

Their project aims to study how multilevel social and infrastructure networks in underserved communities impact community wellbeing, and how a holistic "complete-neighborhoods" approach can support equity-based policy and design to improve wellbeing in underserved communities. 

“As a social scientist, I look forward to contributing my expertise in social network analysis and organizational communication to a holistic approach that will inform equitable policy and design decisions to improve the physical, mental, and social well-being of residents in these communities,” Su said.

Upon the completion of this planning grant, Dr. Su and his team will pursue a multi-year Integrative Research Grant (IRG) from NSF's SCC program.

Elizabeth Newman, dean of the College of Liberal Arts said Dr. Su is deserving of the award. 

“Dr. Su is a fantastic educator and researcher. CoLA is thrilled to be able to assist him in continuing his research and excited to see the impact this project will have on wellbeing in underserved communities," she said.

Dr. Su received the inaugural TSFA (Time to Seek Funding or Awards) award from CoLA, which provided him with dedicated time in Spring 2023 to develop this successful grant proposal.