Professor Karen Cheng is the author of Designing Type, a comprehensive, systematic guide to the design of letters, published by Yale University Press. Since its initial publication in 2006, Designing Type has been translated into German, Spanish, French, Chinese, and Korean, and it has been ranked #14 on a list of "Top 50 Typography Books of the Last 50 Years" in the journal Visible Language.
As a professional designer, Cheng is the co-creator of the award-winning Smart Bins interactive waste receptacles that encourage recycling and composting. She is collaborating with the UW startup EvoEco to commercialize this invention.
As a researcher, Cheng has investigated how scientists can collaborate with designers to aid public and interdisciplinary communication. She organizes the Design Help Desk, a tutoring center where students, faculty, and staff receive assistance with visual design from design students. She is co-author of the popular "A Brief Guide to Designing Effective Figures for the Scientific Paper" and recently published a study on the positive impact of visual design on scientific communication in the Information Design Journal.
Cheng has her Master’s Degree in Design from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Washington in 1997, she worked in Brand Management at the Procter & Gamble Company . She has an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Penn State. A general presentation of her work (for promotion to Full Professor) may be viewed here.