Karen Chen

Assistant Professor

Karen Chen joined NC State’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering as a faculty member in the Human Factors and Ergonomics 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.

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 the 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 Chen’s Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab.

Research Interests

Karen 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.


Ph.D.Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison2015
MSBEMasters of Science in Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison2010
BSBEBachelor of Science in Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison2009

Honors and Awards

  • 2021 | Goodnight Early Career Innovators Award, NC State’s Provost’s Office
  • 2021 | AEC Young Investigator Award
  • 2014 | IEEE VR Best Poster Award
  • 2014 | HFES Student Honors Award


Discover more about Karen Chen



A comparison of the psychological effects of robot motion in physical and virtual environments
Sanders, N. E., Xie, Z., & Chen, K. B. (2023), APPLIED ERGONOMICS, 112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2023.104039
Modeling Human-Machine Interaction System Reliability with Multiple Dependent Degradation Processes and Situation Awareness
Hu, Y., Wang, R., Zhu, M., & Chen, K. B. B. (2023, July 19), INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF RELIABILITY QUALITY AND SAFETY ENGINEERING, Vol. 7. https://doi.org/10.1142/S0218539323500146
Shrink or grow the kids? Scale cognition in an immersive virtual environment for K-12 summer camp
Wu, L., Chen, K. B., Sekelsky, B., Peterson, M., Harper-Gampp, T., & Delgado, C. (2023), 2023 IEEE CONFERENCE ON VIRTUAL REALITY AND 3D USER INTERFACES ABSTRACTS AND WORKSHOPS, VRW, pp. 721–722. https://doi.org/10.1109/VRW58643.2023.00203
Task-Oriented and Imitation-Oriented Movements in Virtual Reality Exercise Performance and Design
Chen, K., & Chen, K. B. (2023), HUMAN FACTORS, 65(1), 125–136. https://doi.org/10.1177/00187208211010100
Checklists in Healthcare: Operational Improvement of Standards using Safety Engineering-Project CHOISSE-A framework for evaluating the effects of checklists on surgical team culture
Perera, G. N., Hey, L. A., Chen, K. B., Morello, M. J., McConnell, B. M., & Ivy, J. S. (2022), APPLIED ERGONOMICS, 103. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2022.103786
Examining the Effects of Gender Transfer in Virtual Reality on Implicit Gender Bias
Wu, L., & Chen, K. B. B. (2022, December 27), HUMAN FACTORS, Vol. 12. https://doi.org/10.1177/00187208221145264
Unmet needs and problems related to employment and working as reported by survivors with metastatic breast cancer
Sesto, M. E., Carroll, C. B., Zhang, X., Chen, K. B., Terhaar, A., Wilson, A. S., & Tevaarwerk, A. J. (2022, January 28), SUPPORTIVE CARE IN CANCER, Vol. 30. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-021-06755-z
Reply to The Effects of Curative-Intent Cancer Therapy on Employment, Work Ability, and Work Limitations
Tevaarwerk, A. J., Kwekkeboom, K., Buhr, K. A., Dennee, A., Conkright, W., Onitilo, A., … Sesto, M. E. (2021, June 18), CANCER, Vol. 6. https://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33566
Results from a prospective longitudinal survey of employment and work outcomes in newly diagnosed cancer patients during and after curative-intent chemotherapy: A Wisconsin Oncology Network study
Tevaarwerk, A. J., Kwekkeboom, K., Buhr, K. A., Dennee, A., Conkright, W., Onitilo, A. A., … Sesto, M. E. (2021), CANCER, 127(5), 801–808. https://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33311
Usage of a Web-Based Workplace and Symptom Self-Management Intervention Tool to Improve Work Ability for Breast Cancer Survivors
Chen, K. B., Yen, T., Sun, W., Tevaarwerk, A. J., Wiegmann, D. A., Heidrich, S. M., & Sesto, M. E. (2021, September 3), JOURNAL OF CANCER EDUCATION, Vol. 9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-021-02048-5

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Karen Chen