Prof. Chen's research focuses on the dynamics and air-sea interactions in tropical convection, tropical cyclones/hurricanes, and intraseasonal oscillations. Prof. Chen leads a research group at UW that has developed a new generation fully coupled atmosphere-wave-ocean model known as the Unified Wave INterface-Coupled Model (UWIN-CM) for coastal and hurricane research and prediction. Prof. Chen has been a lead scientist on several global tropical cyclone research programs, among them: The Coupled Boundary Layer Air-Sea Transfer (CBLAST) experiment; the Hurricane Rainband And INtensity Change EXperiment (RAINEX) using three Doppler radar aircraft collecting unprecedented in-situ data in Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ophelia in 2005; and Impact of Typhoons on Ocean in the Pacific (ITOP) in 2010--the largest international program to study typhoons in the West Pacific. She was also a lead aircraft scientist in the DYNamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) field campaign in 2011 collecting data over the Indian Ocean to improve our knowledge of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) and its impacts on global weather. Her research group is also working with scientists and engineers at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) on offshore wind energy modeling. She is currently working with a team of scientists focusing on understanding the impact of oil spill on the environment in the Gulf of Mexico including realtime UWIN-CM prediction during the Grand LAgrangian Drifters (GLAD) in 2012 and the Surfzone and Coastal Oil Pathways Experiment (SCOPE) in 2013.
Dr. Chen is a recipient of the NASA’s Group Award on Tropical Convection Program in 2006. She served on a panel of experts for the Congressional briefing on the National Hurricane Initiative at U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in July 2007, and later testified at the Joint Hearing on The State of Hurricane Research and the National Hurricane Research Initiative Act of 2007, before the Committees on Energy and Environment, Research and Science Education, and Science and Technology of United States House of Representatives in June 2008. In 2013, she testified at the Congressional Hearing before the Committee on Environment on Restoring U.S. Leadership in Weather Forecasting. Dr. Chen served as an Editor for Weather and Forecasting journal of the American Meteorological Society. She is a member of the National Academies Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) and a Fellow of American Meteorological Society.