Bixia Chen joined UNU-IAS as a Postdoctoral Fellow in April 2011. Working with the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) project related to the Noto Peninsula at the UNU-IAS Operating Unit Ishikawa Kanazawa (OUIK), she conducts research on topics relevant to interactions between humans and nature, past and future. Her research interests include cultural landscapes in rural areas under the stress of depopulation, new challenges of tourist development, traditional uses of natural resources and their potential uses as a sustainable means for the future.
Previously, as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of the Ryukyus, Chen studied the establishment, development and present layout of traditional village landscapes from the perspective of vegetation compositions in order to explore the mechanism and configuration of traditional village landscapes, which have been adaptive to the local island topography and subtropical monsoonal environment. Her other recent research interests include the recreational function of forest resources in the context of the sustainable use of natural resources. Chen also worked with her colleagues on the translation of Eight Volumns of Forest Administration Policies from early modern Ryukyu into modern Japanese and English. Chen also worked briefly with UNU-IAS on a project conducting environmental assessment of an oil spill.
As a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow for two years, she studied traditional village landscapes on small islands focusing on the distribution of old Fukugi (Garcinia subelliptica) trees. During these two years, she visited 30 islands in Okinawa Prefecture and 6 islands in the Amami Islands to search for and measure the remaining Fukugi trees; she tallied the original data and developed the map of huge Fukugi tree distribution on the Ryukyu Islands. Chen has extensive fieldwork experience in Okinawa and mainland China, and has published several papers in international journals, such as Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecologyon comparative researches of cultural landscapes with ecological context in East Asia.
Chen received her Ph.D. in Forest Policy from Kagoshima University, Japan. Her Ph.D. dissertation dealt with environmental viewpoints of coexistence of humans and nature in East Asia and traditional ecological landscapes. In particular, she focused on the functions of plantation areas or preserved areas near traditional villages in protecting settlements from severe natural environment and natural disasters.
Chen holds a Master of Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in English Education. She taught for two years at a high school, and also taught English Literature and International Finance at Fujian Normal University, China.