Karen is a public health researcher using decolonising and participatory approaches to address health issues in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. A focus of her research is understanding how social, cultural and spiritual factors influence understandings of health and inform health service delivery. Karen actively supports research education and research capacity strengthening activities in all her work. In her role as mentor for the Cohort Doctoral Studies Program, Karen provides support to postgraduate students undertaking research studies within the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine. Karen also provides higher degree research supervision to students at JCU and at UQ, where she is an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Public Health.

Karen was awarded her PhD cum laude in 2019, where she identified the processes midwifery students in Papua New Guinea use to manage the provision of care to women following stillbirth. Karen’s current research with Australian and international partners the Australian Museum, the Australian National University, Baru Conservation Alliance, Pacific Adventist University, and the Smithsonian Institute involves:

  • Culturally situating responses to menstrual health and hygiene for girls in Solomon Islands
  • Exploring women's experiences of menopause in Solomon Islands
  • Documenting traditional knowledge about climate and food security in Kwaio, Solomon Islands
  • Culturally appropriate strategies for tuberculosis prevention, detection and treatment in East Kwaio, Solomon Islands
  • Strengthening the role of women leaders in Papua New Guinea for improved sexual health and wellbeing
  • Social and cultural determinants of health
  • Health of people in Solomon Islands
  • Health of people in Papua New Guinea
  • Maternal health
  • Research capacity strengthening
  • Decolonising research
  • 2020 to present - Cohort Doctoral Studies Program Mentor, James Cook University (Cairns)
  • 2019 to present - Research Fellow, James Cook University (Cairns)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2020 - Medal for Excellence in Higher Degree Research
  • 2016 - Joan Hardy Scholarship for Postgraduate Nursing Research (NTEU)
  • 2015 to 2018 - Postgraduate Research Scholarship (APA)
  • 2019 - Adjunct Research Fellow, The Cairns Institute
  • 2015 to 2018 - Postgraduate Fellow, The Cairns Institute
  • 2019 - International Stillibirth Alliance

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Other research outputs
Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Palladium Pty Ltd - Australia Pacific Climate Partnership

Traditional Knowledge about Climate and Food Security in Kwaio, Malaita, Solomon Islands

Indicative Funding
$95,000 over 1 year
This project will be implemented in conjunction with Baru Conservation Alliance in Malaita, Solomon Islands. Traditional Knowledge and experience of weather, the seasonal interaction of plants, animals and people will be explored and documented. The use of tradiitional 'disaster food' after natural disasters will also be documented. The local scale production of flour from locally grown fuits and vegetables will be piloted; usage and spoilage monitored, and dishes made from flour trialled for acceptability and feasibility with Kwaio tribal groups. The project links food security, health and ecological sustainability to inform local level disaster and climate resilience measures in Malaita, Solomon Islands.
David MacLaren, Karen Cheer, Michelle Redman-MacLaren, Colin MacGregor and Darren Crayn in collaboration with Tommy Esau, Esau Kekeubata, Dorothy Esau, Maasafi Alabai, Paul Flemons, Tyrone Lavery and Rebecca Johnson (College of Medicine & Dentistry, College of Science & Engineering, Australian Tropical Herbarium, Baru Conservation Alliance, Australian Museum, Australian National University and Smithsonian Institute)
Solomon Islands; Baru Conservation Alliance; Climate Resilience; Food Security; Disaster Preparedness; Traditional Knowledge

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Palliative Medicine Pioneers: A Window into the History and Development of Palliative Care in Australia (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Family planning service provision in Solomon Islands: A Case Study Approach (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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