As a geographer, Yen-Chu has always been interested in exploring the connections between human societies and the environment. With M.S. and Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Yen-Chu received broad trainings in both the biophysical sciences and the social sciences and has integrated quantitative, qualitative, and GIS methods into her research projects. Her master’s thesis analyzed the spatio-temporal changes of urban landscape patterns in response to urbanization, with a focus on greenspace conservation. In her doctoral research, she explored different perspectives on ecological restoration from the standpoints of scientists, professional practitioners and volunteers. Based on case studies from Wisconsin and Michigan, she interrogated the meanings of science, nature, and participation embedded in restoration ideologies and practices.
Currently Yen-Chu is a Lecturer at the University of Washington’s Program on the Environment. She teaches courses on Introduction to Environmental Studies, Research Methods in Environmental Studies, Analysis of Environmental Cases, and Socio-Environmental Data Analysis. Yen-Chu enjoys teaching and experimenting with innovative pedagogy. At the University of Washington, she engages with the latest development in pedagogy through the Center for Teaching and Learning. She was selected as Technology Teaching Fellow of 2016 and is an active member of the UW’s Evidence-Based Teaching initiative. Externally, she has been involved in the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center’s program on “Teaching Socio-Environmental Synthesis with Case Studies.” She also serves on the editorial board of the Journal for Case Studies in the Environment.
In addition to the Program on the Environment, Yen-Chu is also a core faculty member of the UW Taiwan Studies Program. She leads a summer study abroad program to Taiwan with the theme on exploring environmental and social resilience. In the course “Environmental Issues in East Asia”, students learn contemporary environmental issues in China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan through a comparative lens. Every Winter Quarter, Yen-Chu organized a lecture series focusing on Contemporary Environmental Issues in Taiwan.
In addition to teaching and research, Yen-Chu also advises students on various Capstone projects, including topics about environmental education, greenway infrastructure, sustainability design, community outreach, clean-up site prioritization and many others.