Karen Chen

Assistant Professor

Karen Chen joined NC State’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering as a faculty member in the Human-Systems group in August 2016. Prior to joining ISE, she was a postdoctoral research associate at the Healthcare Systems Engineering Institute at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Chen’s research studies human performances and uses human factors and ergonomics frameworks as the foundation. She also implements technologies such as virtual reality to explore potentials in improving health and safety of various populations. She has investigated the use of virtual reality to understand older driver biomechanics and the utility for ranges of motion rehabilitation of chronic pain patients. Besides research, she also offers courses in Human Factors in Systems Design, Musculoskeletal Biomechanics, Human-Computer Interface, and Special Topics in Technology and Healthcare Applications.

Visit Dr. Chen’s Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab (VARL).

Meet Karen Chen:

ISE Welcomes New Faculty

Watch Dr. Chen talk with WRAL News about her virtual reality research

Watch Virtual Reality Team on the CW22


Ph.D. 2015

Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering

University of Wisconsin-Madison

MSBE 2010

Masters of Science in Biomedical Engineering

University of Wisconsin-Madison

BSBE 2009

Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Research Description

Dr. Chen’s recent research studies patient safety in healthcare systems, specifically examines some critical junctures between primary and specialty care using human factors frameworks and methods. She also explores the application of virtual reality for chronic neck pain rehabilitation and the interface design of touchscreens for individuals with physical disabilities. These research topics also highlight her experiences in experimental design.

Honors and Awards

  • IEEE VR Best Poster Award, 2014
  • HFES Student Honors Award, 2014


Immersion of virtual reality for rehabilitation - Review
Rose, T., Nam, C. S., & Chen, K. B. (2018), Applied Ergonomics, 69, 153–161.
Use of virtual reality feedback for patients with chronic neck pain and kinesiophobia
Chen, K. B., Sesto, M. E., Ponto, K., Leonard, J., Mason, A., Vanderheiden, G., … Radwin, R. G. (2017), IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, 25(8), 1240–1248.
Using the Microsoft Kinect (TM) to assess 3-D shoulder kinematics during computer use
Xu, X., Robertson, M., Chen, K. B., Lin, J. H., & McGorry, R. W. (2017), Applied Ergonomics, 65, 418–423.
Effect of a web-based, decision support intervention to improve work ability in breast cancer survivors
Sesto, M. E., Buhr, K. A., Sun, W., Chen, K., Tevaarwerk, A. J., Wiegmann, D. A., & Heidrich, S. M. (2016),
Evaluation of older driver functional range of motion using virtual reality
Chen, K. B., Xu, X., Lin, J.-H., & Radwin, R. G. (2015),
Evaluation of older driver head functional range of motion using portable immersive virtual reality
Chen, K. B., Xu, X., & Lin, J.-H. (2015), Experimental Gerontology, 70, 150–156.
Virtual exertions: Evoking the sense of exerting forces in virtual reality using gesture and muscle activity
Chen, K. B., Ponto, K., Tredinnick, R. D., & Radwin, R. G. (2015), Human Factors, 57(4), 658–673.
The accuracy of the Oculus Rift virtual reality head-mounted display during cervical spine mobility measurement
Xu, X., Chen, K. B., Lin, J.-H., & Radwin, R. G. (2015), Journal of Biomechanics, 48(4), 721–724.
The living environments laboratory
Gill, E., Brennan, P., Ponto, K., Tredinnick, R., Broecker, M., & Chen, K. (2015),
Assessing exertions: How an increased level of immersion unwittingly leads to more natural behavior
Ponto, K., Chen, K., Radwin, R. G., & Tredinnick, R. (2014),

View all publications via NC State Libraries