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Chien-fei Chen

Director of Education & Diversity, Research Associate Professor


Dr. Chien-fei Chen serves as the Director of Education and Diversity Programs and Research Associate Professor for CURENT. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the department of sociology. Dr. Chen received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Washington State University.

Her research in social psychology focuses on how the content and structure of social relations are mediated through social norms, networks, interpersonal communication and related psychological factors at both individual and group levels. Dr. Chen’s work is especially concerned with the mechanism, transmission and enforcement of social norms; and emphasizes the roles that social-psychological factors have in the influencing of individual decision-making. Her research facilitates the investigation of the social and structural processes that motivate behavioral and psychological changes in relation to issues of energy and technology.

Dr. Chen’s recent research focuses on environmental sociology and interdisciplinary research of energy inequality and justice. The overall goals of her research are to: 1) foster interdisciplinary research and social-technological integration in the areas of power grid resilience, energy conservation behaviors, energy inequality among underserved communities and barriers to alternative sources of energy supply; 2) investigate factors relating to diffusion of renewable energy knowledge, environmental beliefs, attitudes, behaviors and public opinions over environmental issues, 4) integrate social-psychological theories and methodology into engineering modeling to better predict power grid demand, human behaviors and adoption of renewable energy technology; and 5) provide fundamental and practical interdisciplinary knowledge to the general and academic communities, utility companies and policy makers.

Specifically, Dr. Chen recent research projects include: 1) social-psychological factors affecting demand response and energy efficiency behaviors in both residential and commercial buildings; and 2) public acceptance of grid and renewable energy technologies (e.g., solar panels, electric vehicles). Her publications appear in the IEEE, Energy Research and Social Science, Journal of Environmental Psychology, American Sociological Association, Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference, and others. Since 2011, she has been the lead in the linkage of social psychology and grid technologies for CURENT. She has also been involved in the investigation of social psychological factors affecting building occupant behaviors for the International Energy Agency (IEA), Energy in Buildings and Communities (EBC) Annex 66. Additionally, she leads the sustainability education program for the NSF-REC-SEES Network: Predictive Modeling Network for Sustainable Human-Building Ecosystems (SHBE). Dr. Chen most recently received several grant awards from NSF to conduct interdisciplinary studies regarding social-psychological factors and micro-grid resilience and acceptance of grid technologies.

Curriculum Vitae

Research Fact Sheet

Contact Dr. Chen

E-mail Address:


Mailing Address:

508 Min H. Kao Building

The University of Tennessee

Knoxville, TN 37996-2250

Telephone Numbers:

Office (voice): (865) 974-3787