Gund External Advisory Board, Professor, Yale University

Karen Seto is the Frederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science at Yale University, School of the Environment. A geographer and urban scientist, she is an expert on contemporary urbanization, especially in Asia.

Karen's research focus is how urbanization will affect the planet. She has pioneered methods to reconstruct urban land use with satellite imagery and has developed novel methods to forecast urban expansion. Karen has conducted urbanization research in China for twenty years and in India for more than ten. Karen's research has generated insights on the links between urbanization and land use, food systems, biodiversity, and climate change.

Seto has served on numerous national and international scientific bodies. Karen is currently co-leading the urban mitigation chapter for the current IPCC 6th Assessment Report and co-lead the same chapter for the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, published in 2014. Seto is co-editor-in-chief of the journal, Global Environmental Change. From 2000 to 2008, Karen was faculty at Stanford, where she held joint appointments in the Woods Institute for the Environment and the School of Earth Sciences.

Seto is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  

Gund External Advisory Board Member Karen Seto


  • PhD, Geography, Boston University
  • MA, International Relations & Resource and Environmental Management, Boston University
  • BA, Political Science, International Relations, University of California, Santa Barbara


  1. Yale University