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Researcher biography

Karen is a human geographer that is interested in how people are impacted by environmental stressors and how they can respond in ways that are effective, equitable and sustainable. Karen is an ARC Future Fellow (2020-2024) and Associate Professor in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at The University of Queensland (UQ). Karen has been undertaking policy-relevant and applied research in climate change adaptation, social vulnerability, gender, local knowledge and environmental mobility for over fifteen years, partnering with governments, and inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations throughout the Asia-Pacific region. She has published more than 80 academic papers and book chapters.

Karen is currently lead Chief Investigator on two ARC Linkage projects (one on optimising community-based climate change adaptation in the Pacific Islands, and one on transformative human mobilities), and Chief Investigator on an ARC Discovery project (on everyday experiences of sea-level rise) and a National Geographic project (on navigating rising seas in Fiji, Tuvalu and the Maldives). She has undertaken a number of research projects for the Australian Government, EU, UNDP, UNESCO and others. She currently supervises 10 PhD students, and is a member of the United Nations University's 'Resilience Academy', Integrated Research on Disaster Risk's 'Young Scientists Programme', and an Associate with the Queensland Centre for Population Research (UQ). Karen is the Pacific Editor for Asia Pacific Viewpoint and is on the Editorial Boards of the International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, Urban Island Studies, and the APN Science Bulletin.

Prior to taking up her position at UQ, Karen was a Research Consultant at the University of the South Pacific based in Fiji (2011-2012). From 2008-2011, Karen was based in Cairns at James Cook University managing major research projects in the Wet Tropics rainforest and Torres Strait for the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility and National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility. Prior to this, Karen worked for the NSW Government (2007) and in various roles at the University of New South Wales (2002-2006).