Karen T.H. Chen is an assistant professor in the Department of Urban Design and Planning and the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Washington, where she is also affiliated with the Data Science Program. As a geographer, Karen finds great interest in the synergy of machine learning and remote sensing. Her recent research primarily focuses on urban environmental change and its implications for public health and health inequality.
Currently, Karen is leading two projects: one exploring the relationship between urban form, outdoor activities, and mental health, and the other investigating the intersection of urbanization and climate-related hazards, such as flooding, extreme heat, and landslides. Utilizing geospatial and remote sensing techniques, her studies span large-scale investigations and work with regional collaborators, including the Mediterranean region and the Himalayas.
Karen’s expertise includes developing innovative frameworks using deep learning to reconstruct high-resolution urban form information across time. Her contributions have earned her recognition as one of the Leading Women in Machine Learning for Earth Observation in 2022. Her research findings have been published in high-impact journals, including Science Advances, Remote Sensing of Environment, Journal of Land Use Science, Applied Geography, and Science of the Total Environment, among others.
Prior to joining UW in 2023, Karen had studied internationally in Taiwan, Denmark, and Germany and conducted her postdoc research at Yale University. Karen is passionate about making research engaging and accessible to broader audiences. She also believes that fostering diversity and inclusiveness is essential for achieving academic excellence. In her leisure time, she enjoys spending moments with cats and taking walks in the woods.