Dr. Lee’s journey into academia is one from rags to research. Born into a humble family in the small nation-state of Singapore, Dr. Lee had to overcome multiple social-economic challenges that came along with conditions of poverty and inequalities. As a young child, Dr. Lee could hardly speak and understand English when he entered primary school (first grade) while his peers were already far ahead of him in terms of academic learning. In those early years, Dr. Lee did so poorly in school despite his best efforts to the extent that he was singled out by one of his math teachers to be a prime example of what it meant to be someone with “no future”.
Despite having statistical odds stacked against him, Dr. Lee was blessed to have mentors at every stage of his life who believed in him and encouraged him never to give up opportunities for higher-education and learning.
The early years of hardships led Dr. Lee to have a real-world understanding of the problem posed by disparity, and the importance of research and education in addressing such problems. One of the most pressing issues faced by the underprivileged globally was poorer health due to communication inequalities. In other words, the lack of access to health information through communication technologies—or the understanding of how to process such health information—significantly impede individuals’ pursuit of health. With his training in public health communication and data science, Dr. Lee in his research aims to examine how the use of data could significantly address problems in health disparities.