Su-Mi Lee, UH Hilo political science professor and scholar, attends research seminar in Bangkok

The three-day seminar assisted younger scholars from Asia and the Pacific in developing papers suitable for international publication.

By Susan Enright.

Su-Mi Lee
Su-Mi Lee

Su-Mi Lee, assistant professor of political science at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, recently traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, to participate in a research seminar geared toward emergent scholars.

The second Emergent Scholar Seminar was held at Kasetsart University in March.  Attended by younger scholars from various Asia Pacific Higher Education Research Partnership (APHERP) institutions, participants presented work in response to an organizing concept paper prepared by the seminar coordinators Christopher Collins of Azusa Pacific University (APHERP associate director) and Deane Neubauer (APHERP co-director).

Seminar cohort seated for photo.
Seminar cohort. Courtesy photo APHERP.

The two-and-a-half-day seminar (link to organizing concept paper is below) is intended to assist younger scholars in developing papers suitable for international publication.

The UH System is a founding member of APHERP. The Emergent Scholar Seminar engages newer faculty in focused research and writing activities that will lead to publication of their work in international journals. There were about a dozen participants at this seminar, including three from Hawai‘i (in addition to Lee, there was one researcher from UH Mānoa and one from Hawai‘i Pacific University).

“It was a group of great and fun people who participated in the seminar,” says Lee. “They are from a number of Asian countries — Japan, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Malaysia — and the United States. I was surprised to see a majority of the participants were female.”

The group at Grand Palace, posing as guardians.
All work and no play makes for dull researchers. The group poses at the Grand Palace: Statue of Guardians. (l-r) Ahn Thi Ngoc Pham, Wei-ni Wang, Christian Gloria, Su-Mi Lee, Xiao Han, Shinichi Yamazaki, Christopher Lucas, and Hao Ni. Courtesy photos from Su-Mi Lee. Click to enlarge.

The trip was not all work and no play. The group had a lot of fun sight-seeing, dining, and shopping together. Lee says their host, Kasetsart University, treated each researcher like a VIP. They were fed well at nice restaurants. They even had a group of student musicians at one of the dinner gatherings. They never had the same selection of foods. The upcoming university president made time to be with the group for dinners on two nights and two vice presidents came to spend time with them. They always had at least two people attending to them wherever they went.

Seminar venue, participants seated around a horse shoe shaped table. Curtained windows. Low lighting so people can see the communal computer screens..
Seminar venue. Courtesy photo from APHERP.

“I had so much fun,” she says. “We laughed most of the time. We enjoyed each other’s company. But we were serious when it came to our research.”

Lee says organizers Collins and Neubauer both worked diligently with the researchers to develop their works as solid research pieces.

“We had homework to complete each day,” explains Lee. “We stayed up past midnight to prepare the progress on our research paper for the next day’s seminar. We talked with each other to share some thoughts on each other’s papers, encouraged each other to do better, and gave each other pep talks when any one was disappointed with his or her progress.”

Lee’s research: conflict management

Lee’s current research interests center on topics of conflict management, with a particular emphasis on how mediators’ characteristics affect the likelihood of mediation occurrence and success. Her dissertation, entitled “Mediator Impartiality and Interest,” examines how the additive value, rather than the individual values, of mediators’ impartiality and interest affects the likelihood of successful mediation in international militarized disputes.

Based on the findings of her dissertation, Lee examines the conditions under which mediator impartiality becomes more important than mediator interest. Such conditions include culture, the nature of the dispute, and the nature of disputants’ relationship with each other. Her research has been published in the International Journal of Peace.

“In line with the conference concept paper, my research examines the strengths and limitations of the university as a source of conflict management that can be utilized by community members,” Lee explains. “Through this examination, this research recognizes the university as an ideal institution that can lend its expertise to help manage community conflict.”

The plan of the group is to get all manuscripts ready by the end of summer and try to publish them in an edited book. Lee notes the previous cohort of the seminar was able to get their manuscripts approved for publication.

More photos from Lee’s trip:

Group at restaurant. Napkins folded on table.
At one of their dinners, (front row, l-r) Christopher Collins and Deane Neubauer (seminar organizers), and Thi Nhai Nguyen. (2nd row) Shahreen Binti Mat Nayan, Nhat Thi Thanh Nguyen, Su-Mi Lee, Anh Thi Ngoc Pham, Thi My Ngoc Nguyen. (Back row) Christopher Lucas, Xiao Han, Hao Ni, Ying-Ju Lai, Wei-Ni Wang, and Christian Gloria. Click to enlarge.


Group photo in front of orange walls. About 23 people.
Seminar group stands for a photo at Pola Pola Restaurant. (Front row, l-r) Wei-ni Wang, Ying-Ju Lai, Thi My Ngoc Nguyen, Anh Thi Ngoc Pham, Thi Nhai Nguyen, Sornprach Thanisawanyangkura (VP for Research), Mayuree Thespol (VP for Human Resource Management), Shahreen Binti Mat Nayan, Nhat Thi Thanh Nguyen. (2nd row) Christopher Collins and Deane Neubauer (seminar organizers), President of Kasetsart University, Shinichi Yamazaki, Xiao Han, Prompilai Buasuwan (Assistant to VP for International Affairs), Christian Gloria, Christopher Lucas. (3nd row l-r) Suparerk Sooksmarn, two student singers, Hao Ni, Su-Mi Lee. Courtesy photos from Su-Mi Lee.


A man stands in front of miniature temple. Yellow roof, distinctive details carvings.
A replica of a miniature ancient Cambodian temple (Angkor Wat)


Democracy Monument. Very modern lines with winged-like towering structures lifting upward. White materials.
Democracy Monument.


Ronald McDonald stands next to sign: I [heart] Khaosan. URL:
Khosan Road, an area for tourists.

About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.