Karen’s early research work looked at developing landscape and seascape assessment methodologies as effective planning tools. She later focussed on the vernacular Irish landscape, examining landscape preference, drivers of landscape change and exploring scenario-based tools to engage with a range of stakeholders. More recent research centres on urban open space, identifying tools and techniques to develop robust multifunctional landscape typologies in cities that satisfy social and environmental needs.
Karen was one of the lead instigators of “Turas”, an EU funded research project bringing together urban communities and businesses along with local authorities and researchers to collaborate on practical new solutions for more sustainable and resilient European cities. This was funded under the Seventh Framework Programme and received an “Ireland’s Champions of EU Research’ award in June 2012. Within this project she led a Work Package studying urban/industrial regeneration, land-use planning and creative design examining the socio-economic implications of clearing sites and identifying the various ecosystem services that re-used sites may have. Currently Karen is on the High Advisory Board of “Connecting Nature”, a €12 m Horizon 2020 Innovation Action which will position Europe as a global leader in the innovation and implementation of Nature-based Solutions. Connecting Nature brings together 29 partners from 16 European countries including local authorities, communities, industry partners, NGOs and academics.