Graduate students in Prof. Ariel Sommer’s physics lab are building an experiment to study quantum transport using ultra-cold atomic gases.

A $3 million gift made recently to Lehigh University by the H.S. Lee Family Foundation will fund fellowships for graduate students in physics and mathematics. Hyo Sang Lee ’76G ’80G made the generous gift in honor of Yong W. Kim, faculty member in Lehigh’s physics department for 50 years and faculty advisor to Lee when he was a graduate student.

The fellowships will provide financial support to graduate students who are pursuing a master’s degree or doctorate in physics or mathematics. Up to three students may be selected to receive the fellowship each year, determined by a selection committee composed of department chairs and faculty.

“This is a truly transformational gift,” said Volkmar Dierolf, professor and chair of the physics department. “The fellowships provided will enable the recipients to completely focus on the academic work and engage in research projects from day one.”

Wei-Min Huang, professor and interim chair of mathematics, said, “These fellowships will greatly enhance Lehigh’s physics and mathematics graduate programs and have wide-ranging effects on our research and educational goals.”

Graduate students are fundamental to Lehigh’s research mission and the Lee fellowships will expand their impact. “By allowing the physics and mathematics programs to recruit more graduate students and free them to concentrate on scholarship, Dr. Lee’s gift makes a considerable contribution to our goal of greater research prominence,” said Dominic Packer, associate dean for Research and Graduate Programs.

Lee earned both his Master of Science and doctorate in physics at Lehigh and was himself the recipient of two graduate fellowships. In 1990, he formed Science and Engineering Services LLC, a firm that manufactures science, engineering, and weapon systems. The company serves various government agencies such as NASA, the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health, as well as commercial customers worldwide. Lee is an expert in the area of lasers and electro-optical system development, medical optics, and lidar remote sensing.

The honoree of Lee’s fellowship, Yong W. Kim, who has educated countless physics students and advised 21 doctoral physics students at Lehigh, said Lee came to the university in 1975 on the recommendation of a physics professor Kim knew at Seoul National University.

Kim said Lee was “diligent in his pursuit of graduate studies from the outset. I remember him for his intellectual aggressiveness, asking questions, and challenging many things we had accepted as the state of understanding.”

The gift came as a surprise to Kim, who said of Lee, “I surmise that he considers his time at Lehigh as enabling his subsequent growth and wishes to impact the growth of the graduate student population in these fields at Lehigh.”