Karen Chen

Associate Professor

Karen Chen joined NC State’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering as a faculty member 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 in human-technology interactions focuses on studying human performances and behaviors (in terms of limits and capacity), with applications in training, learning, and healthcare. She offers courses in Human Factors in Systems Design, Systems Safety Engineering, and Virtual Reality and Human Factors.

Chen is funded by National Science Foundation (NSF) and by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). She is a faculty member of the occupational safety and ergonomics (OSE) program of the NC Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center (ERC). She also collaborates with The Ergonomics Center of North Carolina for industry projects. Her work on virtual and mixed reality technologies is also disseminated via local media (WRAL5, CW22, PBC NC), outreach for K-12 students underrepresented in STEM, and panels at North Carolina Comicon.

Visit Chen’s Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab.

Research Interests

Chen’s primary research interest is to advance the understanding of human performance and behavior, and thereby design systems to match human capabilities and employ VR and mixed reality (MR) technologies (i.e., human factors of technologies) to support health, safety, work, learning, and many other fields. Her current research focuses on examining and characterizing human movements and behaviors in immersive virtual environments for training and learning. Her previous work focused on rehabilitative movements and therapeutic exercises in virtual reality for patients with chronic pain.


Ph.D.Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison2015
MSBiomedical EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison2010
BSBiomedical EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison2009

Honors and Awards

  • 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
Eliciting Ergonomic User-Defined Gestures for Virtual Reality: A Pilot Study
Sanders, N., Sener, E., & Chen, K. B. (2023), Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. https://doi.org/10.1177/21695067231192530
Experiences with Postdoctoral Training in Human Factors: Mentor and Trainee Perspectives
Caine, K., Catchpole, K., Sasangohar, F., Chen, K. B., Hegde, S., Souders, D., … McLaurin, E. J. (2023), Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. https://doi.org/10.1177/21695067231192205
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
Scale Worlds: Iterative refinement, evaluation, and theory-usability balance of an immersive virtual learning environment
Wu, L., Sekelsky, B., Peterson, M., Gampp, T., Delgado, C., & Chen, K. B. (2023), Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 67(1), 2382–2388. https://doi.org/10.1177/21695067231192534
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

View all publications via NC State Libraries

Karen Chen