$300,000 NSF Grant for Climate Research

Prof. SunAssistant Professor of Geosciences Fengpeng Sun Ph.D. was recently awarded a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. As the principal investigator, Sun will work as an independent researcher on a three-year project, “High-resolution Climate Change Projections in Missouri.”

Sun’s funded project is part of NSF’s Missouri Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program, “Missouri Transect: Plants, Climate and Community”, headed by Prof. John Walker at MU in Columbia. Missouri Transect is a five-year effort to build infrastructure, knowledge and collaborations in research and education across Missouri. As an established climate scientist, Sun brings to the Missouri Transect added expertise in the design of high-resolution regional climate modeling.

“As a new Geosciences faculty member who has worked at UMKC for only a few months, this award is a very impressive accomplishment for Dr. Sun,” said Geosciences Department Chair Wei “Wayne” Ji, Ph.D. Another Geosciences faculty member, Professor Jimmy Adegoke, also received a NSF EPSCoR grant about two years ago.

“I am confident that these two parallel projects will build a strong climate research program at UMKC,” said Ji.

Sun has been investigating climate variability and climate change from a regional/local perspective, which is most relevant to human activities and ecosystems. Prior to joining UMKC in September, Sun served as an assistant researcher at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

“I started preparing this project proposal while I was still at UCLA, shortly after I accepted the tenure-track position at UMKC in May,” said Sun, further explaining that it usually takes months for the reviewing process. In the meantime, he is also financially supported by the College of Arts and Sciences startup funds allocated for new faculty. “I acknowledge the support from Dean Vaughts’s office, and all Geosciences faculty for their assistance to help me settle in,” said Sun.

“Dr. Sun’s reputation as a regional climate modeling expert, and his capability to build interdisciplinary research collaborations, greatly helped him get this award,” said Ji.

Sun says he looks forward to collaborating with faculty and researchers in other physical sciences, humanities and social sciences across the UMKC campus to extend his expertise in regional climate modeling to cross-discipline research in climate change impact studies.

“This project is not only significant from a scientific perspective, but for leveraging UMKC’s leadership in disseminating climate change and its impacts to the public,” said Sun, adding that our community needs to be prepared for climate change challenges and to be informed of climate change mitigation strategies.

“Ultimately we want to build a community which is resilient to the changing climate, and we want to make the Earth a sustainable place.”