J.C. Lee began her career in STEM education and policy, with focus on increasing equity for minoritized and under-served students. She subsequently pursued academic research in observational astronomy, and is an expert on star formation in nearby galaxies. J.C. Lee graduated from Cornell University with a BA in Mathematics and a MA in Teaching. She then obtained a MA in Astronomy from Wesleyan University, and a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Arizona (2006). She held Hubble and Carnegie postdoctoral research fellowships at NOAO (now NOIRLab) and Carnegie Observatories. In 2011, she became a member of the scientific staff at the Space Telescope Science Institute, where she continued her research and supported the scientific community through her work to enable the Early Release Science program with JWST. In 2017, she joined the scientific staff at Caltech/IPAC as Deputy Lead for Communications and Education. In 2021, she joined NOIRLab to serve as Chief Scientist for Gemini Observatory, and in 2023 returned to STScI to support the next NASA Astrophysics flagship mission as Project Scientist for New Missions and Strategic Initiatives. J.C. Lee has authored over 100 publications on star formation and galaxy evolution, and has been an editor of 3 books.
Her research aims to constrain the physics that drive, regulate, and extinguish massive star formation across different galactic environments. She has been particularly interested in using the extreme environments of low mass dwarf galaxies, galaxy outskirts, and starbursts as observational laboratories. The core of her work is based on large, multi-wavelength imaging surveys of nearby galaxies that she has led or co-led over the past 15 years: the 11 Mpc Halpha & Ultraviolet Galaxy Survey; Spitzer Local Volume Legacy Survey (LVL), and the HST Legacy ExtraGalactic Ultraviolet Survey (LEGUS). Most recently, she has led Hubble and JWST Treasury surveys for the PHANGS (Physics at High Angular resolution in Nearby GalaxieS) collaboration to conduct inventories of the stellar clusters and associations in nearby spiral galaxies with 13 band imaging from the UV to mid-IR. J.C. Lee engages in a broad range of service to the astronomical research community, with participation on national and international scientific advisory, review, and organizing committees. She has served as a member and chair of the NASA Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group (COPAG) Executive Committee.
PhD in Astronomy, University of Arizona
MA in Astronomy, Wesleyan University
BA in Mathematics and MA in Teaching, Cornell University
Research Topics: Star Formation, Histories, and Evolution, Galaxy Formation and Evolution, Interstellar Medium, Stellar Populations, Star Clusters
ORCID ID: 0000-0002-2278-9407