Chen is attempting to understand the distribution of matter in the universe and how astrophysics regulates star formation and galaxy growth. She is especially interested in the mystery of ordinary matter, two–thirds of which remains unaccounted for. One of her projects is to map the hidden universe of diffuse gas that exists in the seemingly empty space between galaxies. Among her research methods, Chen uses gamma–ray bursts, some of the most powerful explosions in the universe, to backlight this otherwise invisible gas. A citizen of the Republic of China in Taiwan, she is a frequent user of the Magellan Telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.