Professor Seto’s research is on the human transformation of land and the links between urbanization, global change, and sustainability. A geographer by training, her research integrates remote sensing, field interviews, and modeling methods to study land change and urbanization, forecast urban growth, and examine the environmental consequences of urban expansion. She is an expert in satellite remote sensing analysis and has pioneered methods to reconstruct historical land-use and to develop empirical models to explain and forecast the expansion of urban areas. She is a specialist in contemporary urbanization in China and India, and has more than fifteen years of research experience in Asia.
Professor Seto is an established leader in the area of urbanization and global environmental change. She is Co-Chair of the Urbanization and Global Environmental Change Project (UGEC) of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), and a Coordinating Lead Author for Working Group III of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. She also serves on the National Research Council Committee to the Advise the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), the National Research Council Geographical Sciences Committee, the National Research Council Committee on Needs and Research Requirements for Land-Change Modeling, and the U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Steering Group. From 2002 to 2008, she was the Global Thematic Leader for Ecosystem Management Tools for the Commission on Ecosystem Management of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 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 highlight the urban changes occurring in China. Professor Seto is a recipient of a NASA New Investigator Program Award, a NSF Career Award, and a National Geographic Research Grant. She was named an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow in 2009.