Karsten originally hails from California, but has also lived in Ghana, and now Switzerland.
He earned a Bachelors of Science from the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University in Political Science with a concentration on International Politicals and Islamic Studies. While at Barrett he also took part in the Critical Languages Institute's Tajiki Language Program. Karsten was also the President of the College Democrats of Arizona.
At the time of his internship, Karsten was in the process of completing his Masters of Arts in International Relations at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. His official research tracks were Foreign Policy and Transnational Organizations and Leadership, but his primary research interest was on decision-making groups, specifically defiant and/or rogue actors and the factors that drive them to engage in illicit activity and recalcitrant behavior. Karsten was also interested in both traditional and non-traditional security studies, specifically matters of transnational organized crime, guerilla warfare, counter insurgency and social movements.