Her research is focused on how urban built environments shape child health behaviours and outcomes. In particular, she is interested in locational and socio-environmental determinants of children’s independent mobility, activity spaces (areas they roam), development and mental health. She has sourced spatial data, conceptualised and developed built environment measures using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, linked spatial data to other sources, and applied spatial indices to health outcomes. Her collaborative work with linking spatial measures to hospital, survey, and mental health data is the first of its kind globally, thus informing data linkage methods internationally.
Karen was formally an early career Research Fellow at the McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing, University of Melbourne. She also holds a fractional appointment at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.