University of Wisconsin–Madison

Kelly Wanjing Chen

Graduate student (Ph.D.)


M.S. Human Geography, Beijing Normal University, 2014
Visiting Scholar in Human Geography, University of Oklahoma, 2012-2013
B.A. English, Beijing Normal University, 2011
B.S. Geography, Beijing Normal University, 2011

Research Areas

Economic geography, development study, Chinese outward investment, Laos

Current Research

My current research focus on the impact of Chinese outward investment on the urbanization of cities in developing countries, with an area focus on Southeast Asia. Previously I conducted research on the labor conditions of rosewood furniture industry in China. It was in tracing the international rosewood trade that I became interested in this topic and decided to conduct PhD research around Chinese speculative investment in Vientiane Laos. Since early 2010, Laos has experienced a boom of Chinese investment as China proposed to construct a high-speed railway through the country. Speculative Chinese capital triggered by the proposal has cast cumulative impacts on Lao communities, causing economic and social marginalization. Together with local NGOs, I will address the scope and scale of the impact, and investigate the side effect of mega projects at their pre-stage.

Courses Taught

Teaching Assistant
GEOG 101, Introduction to Human Geography, UW-Madison, Fall 2014, Spring 2015


Association of American Geographers (AAG)
Center of Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS)

Awards and Honors

- Center of Southeast Asian Studies Field Research Award, 2016 - Scott Kloeck-Jenson International Internship Grant, 2016 - Trewartha Conference Travel Award, UW-Madison, 2015 - Trewartha Conference Travel Award, UW-Madison, 2014 - Mellon Foundation Area and International Studies Fellowship, 2014 - Beijing Normal University Tangren Scholarship for Academic Achievement, 2014 - Beijing Normal University 2nd-Class Scholarship for Academic Achievement, 2010 - Beijing Normal University 2nd-Class Scholarship for Academic Achievement, 2009 - Beijing Normal University 3rd-Class Scholarship for Academic Achievement, 2008

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
550 Science Hall
550 North Park Street,
Madison, Wisconsin 53705

Phone: (608) 422-9786