Google scholar profile   Academia profile  

Researcher biography

Karen is a human geographer that is broadly interested in the interactions between people's livelihoods, development pathways and environmental change. 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, development, gender, Indigenous 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 85 academic papers and book chapters, and 30 policy briefs and online commentaries.

Karen currently leads a number of ARC grants. Her ARC Future Fellowship is undertaking an in-depth exploration of the intangible forms of loss as a result of environmental change in three Pacific Island countries. She has led two ARC Linkage grants, one that has recently been completed (on optimising community-based climate change adaptation in four Pacific Island countries) and one that is currently underway (on how various forms of mobility may produce development outcomes and enhance adaptive capacity). Karen is also currently a CI on an ARC Discovery grant on everyday experiences of sea-level rise with colleagues at the University of Melbourne. Karen has managed 21 research grants for the Australian Government, United Nations Development Programme, and others as lead or named CI, totalling over AU$2.8 million.

Karen has supervised five PhD students to completion, and is currently supervising 10 students. She 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 an Editor for Asia Pacific Viewpoint and is on the Editorial Boards of the International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, Climate Risk Management, 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).

Karen proudly comes from the small town of Quirindi, which is Kamilaroi Country, on the Liverpool Plains in NSW.