Faculty News

Kelly Ryoo among eight Tar Heels to win NSF CAREER grants

Kihyun “Kelly” Ryoo, assistant professor of learning sciences, is one of eight Carolina faculty members who have won prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER grants this year.

It’s the largest number of NSF CAREER grants ever won at Carolina.

Ryoo’s five-year grant of $674,000 will be used to fund a research project in which she will work with 8th grade science teachers to improve their instruction for English language learners – or ELLs – through the use of visualization technologies.

The NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development Program – known as CAREER – is among the NSF’s most prestigious awards and supports early career-development activities of scholars who work to integrate research and education. Carolina won a total of $5.9 million in CAREER grants this year.

“These awards represent the future of UNC,” said Terry Magnuson, vice chancellor for research. “The projects themselves reflect the scholarly diversity and excellence of our institution. That we have eight NSF CAREER award winners this year is a testament to Carolina’s national leadership in research.”

Ryoo’s project builds on her earlier work in using dynamic visualizations, which include animations, simulations, and models and are typically displayed with tablet devices such as iPads. Her work has demonstrated that the visualizations help students better understand complex scientific phenomena and better engage with other students using the language of the science classroom. She has focused her work on using the tools to help English language learners who speak a language other than English at home.

In 2014, Ryoo was chosen from among scholars around the world to be named a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow, one of the most competitive awards in the field of education research.