Karen C. Seto

Karen C. Seto's picture
Professor of Geography & Urbanization
380 Edwards St, Room 102
Phone number: 
(203) 432-9784
Fax Number: 
(203) 432-5556


Karen Seto is Professor of Geography and Urbanization at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Prior to joining Yale, she was on the faculty at Stanford University for eight years. Professor Seto’s research is on the human transformation of land and the links between urbanization, global change, and sustainability.  She is an expert in urbanization dynamics, forecasting urban growth, and examining the environmental consequences of urban expansion. She has pioneered methods using satellite remote sensing to reconstruct historical patterns of urbanization and to develop projections of future urban expansion. She specializes in China and India, where she has conducted urbanization research for more than fifteen years.

Professor Seto serves on a number of international and national scientific advisory committees, including as Coordinating Lead Author for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Coordinating Lead Author for the UN Convention on Biodiversity Cities’ and Biodiversity Outlook, and Co-Chair of the IHDP Urbanization and Global Environmental Change Project. She also currently serves on the U.S. National Research Council (NRC) Committee to Advise the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), the NRC Geographical Sciences Committee, and the U.S. Carbon Cycle Scientific Steering Group. She is the Executive Producer of “10,000 Shovels: Rapid Urban Growth in China,” a documentary film that integrates satellite imagery, historical photographs, and contemporary film footage to examine the urban changes occurring in China. Professor Seto is a recipient of a NASA New Investigator Program (Career) Award, an NSF CAREER Award, and a National Geographic Research Grant. She was named an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow in 2009. 


Ph.D., Geography 2000 Boston University
M.A., Int. Relations & Resource and Env. Management 1995 Boston University
B.A., Political Science 1991 University of California, Santa Barbara