Portrait of Kerk Kee, Ph.D.

Kerk Kee, Ph.D.

Kerk Kee, Ph.D., assistant professor at Chapman University in the Department of Communication Studies, Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences, has been awarded a five-year CAREER grant of $519,753 from the National Science Foundation for support of his project “Organizational Capacity and Capacity Building for Cyberinfrastructure Diffusion.”

According to the NSF, a CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) grant is the Foundation’s “most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” It is the largest grant in Wilkinson College history, and the first CAREER grant in communication science at Chapman (the two previous Chapman NSF CAREER grants have both been in the natural sciences). It is also only the eighth NSF CAREER grant ever awarded in the field of communication; the other recipients are faculty members at top-tier research universities (Cornell University, UC Santa Barbara, University of Michigan, University of Washington, Ohio State University and two at Northwestern University).

Dr. Kee’s award will start on August 1 this year, and ends July 31, 2020. He previously received an NSF grant of $324,981 in 2013 for his work on virtual organizations (

“I congratulate Kerk Kee on this incredible news,” said Daniele Struppa, Ph.D., chancellor of Chapman University. “We’re very proud of this dedicated scholar and educator and his groundbreaking work. This award is assuredly a defining moment in his career, and it will serve to advance and showcase his important research, which has vital implications for research, government and commercial organizations harnessing big data.”

“This new project at Chapman is an urgent and critical effort aimed at solving the organizational challenges inherent in scientific ‘virtual organizations,’ so these organizations can effectively focus on their scientific missions in bettering the world through big data and new technologies,” said Dr. Kee. “I’m very grateful both to the NSF for their support and to the leadership, culture and environment of Chapman University at the departmental, college and university levels.”

The goal of Dr. Kee’s CAREER project is to study how dispersed technologists (as developers) and scientists (as users) from multiple universities form virtual organizations to co-produce new technologies for simulation and visualization analyses, and implement those technologies to harness big data for scientific discovery. The specific aim is to understand the organizational capacity necessary to enable the development, implementation and diffusion of such technologies to create a national research cyberinfrastructure.

Dr. Kee will conduct extensive interviews and multiple national surveys with participants across the U.S. to better understand the social and organizational challenges these virtual organizations face, and how they overcome these challenges. In addition, he will develop a model of organizational capacity and design capacity-building strategies to promote successful diffusion and implementation of new technologies for big data.

As the 2014 recipient of Wilkinson College’s Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring Award, Dr. Kee is committed to teaching and mentoring students. He will involve Chapman undergraduate and graduate students in this project and develop new courses out of this research. He will also mentor a post-doctoral researcher during the last two years of this grant.

Dr. Kee’s research has been previously funded by the NSF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since joining Chapman in 2010, he has generated more than $850,000 in external research funding.