Karen Seto is the Frederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Director of Doctoral Studies at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. An urban and land change scientist, the overarching objective of her research is to understand how urbanization will affect the planet. Her research includes characterizing urban land-use, understanding the drivers of urban land-use change, forecasting urban expansion, and assessing the large-scale environmental consequences of urban expansion. She is an expert in satellite remote sensing and has pioneered methods to reconstruct urban land-use dynamics with satellite data and to forecast the expansion of urban areas.
Professor Seto was one of two Coordinating Lead Authors for the urban mitigation chapter of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, and has served on many U.S. National Research Council Committees, including the recent NRC Committee on Pathways to Urban Sustainability. She was founder and co-chair of international science program, Urbanization and Global Environmental Change Project, and Executive Producer of “10,000 Shovels: Rapid Urban Growth in China,” a documentary film that examines urban changes in China. From 2000 to 2008, she was on the faculty at Stanford University, where she held joint appointments in the Woods Institute for the Environment and the School of Earth Sciences. She is an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. She has a PhD in Geography from Boston University.