Public Health Outcomes and Effects of the Built Environment (PHOEBE) Laboratory

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Welcome to the home of the Public Health Outcomes and Effects of the Built Environment (PHOEBE) Laboratory. The PHOEBE Laboratory is housed in the Department of Kinesiology within the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

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Where we live, work and play can affect our health.

Our mission is to gain an improved understanding of how our built environments or rather the man-made places and spaces of our neighborhoods and communities, such as buildings, parks, and transportation systems, can impact the health and well-being of individuals of all ages.  More specifically, we will examine environmental factors that encourage or discourage all domains of physical activity (e.g. recreational, transportation, household, occupational) and how these factors may be associated with physical (e.g. obesity) and mental (e.g. depression) public health outcomes among adults, adolescents and children.

Our research is often framed by the Ecological Model of Active Living, which not only examines the influences of the physical environment, both built and natural, but it also incorporates the direct and indirect impacts of the social environment. Hence, our research follows a broad approach to active living by investigating the following questions.

  • How is the relationship between various built environments (e.g. home neighborhood) and types of physical activities (e.g. active transportation) mediated or moderated by social environmental factors (e.g. social capital)?
  • How do environmental disparities (e.g. access to recreational spaces) impact health behavior (e.g. physical activity) and health outcome (e.g. obesity) disparities?
  • How can we use community-based participatory research to introduce individual and community level interventions that promotes sustainable active living for the improvement of health and well-being.

Please visit the other pages on this site to learn more about our current research as well as our team members and research partners. If you are interested in getting involved with the PHOEBE Laboratory or have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your interest in the PHOEBE Laboratory at UMD!

 

Want to get involved with the PHOEBE Laboratory?

If you are interested in assisting with new or existing projects (e.g. student intern, research assistant, donor, partner, etc.), please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Roberts at jenrob@umd.edu.  Read on to learn more about the current team members in the PHOEBE Laboratory.

Jennifer D. Roberts, DrPH, MPH

Dr. Roberts is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology, a Faculty Associate at the Maryland Population Research Center, and the Director of the PHOEBE Laboratory.  Prior to joining the University of Maryland College Park (UMD) in 2015, she was a faculty member at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.  Jen’s research and teaching interests focus on the relationship between the built environment and physical activity in addition to its impact on obesity and other public health outcomes.  More specifically, much of her research has explored the dynamic relationship between environmental, social and cultural determinants of physical activity and using empirical evidence of this relationship to infer complex health outcome patterns among adults and children.  Jen’s educational and professional background is in the field of environmental health sciences.  She is currently collaborating with the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation community centers in Reston, VA on projects related to physical activity, public health and the environment.  In her leisure time, Jen enjoys running, hiking and a wide variety of physical activities.

Lindsey Rodkey

Lindsey is recently graduated with a Master in Public Health student with a concentration in Physical Activity in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland College Park.  She earned her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and minored in Human Development at the University of Maryland College Park in 2013.  Her research interests include the built environment and access to parks and greenspaces, physical activity promotion, health disparities, and environmental justice.  Currently, Lindsey is assisting Dr. Jennifer Roberts with the PEAT study and assessing active transport habits of adolescents in Fairfax County, VA.  In addition to serving as a research assistant, Lindsey also works on campus as an academic advisor and is an assistant coach for the Y of Central Maryland swim team.  When she isn’t working, Lindsey enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring National Parks.    

 

Myles Davenport

Myles recently graduated at the University of Maryland, College Park School of Public Health pursuing a B.S. in Kinesiology and minor in Technology Entrepreneurship. He earned his Associates in Pre-Physical Therapy from Prince George's Community College in 2015. He has a passion for helping others as well as maintaining health and physical fitness. One of his career goals is to become a Professional Sports Physical Therapist. In his spare time, Myles enjoys working out, hanging with friends, and participating in all sorts of fun physical activity.

Jessica Montresor-Lopez, MPH

Jessica is a 5th year PhD student in the Toxicology and Environmental Health program at the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health within the University of Maryland College Park. In 2013, Jessica obtained an MPH in Environmental Health from the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Prior to enrolling at UMD, Jessica conducted biomedical research at Washington University in St. Louis and St. Louis University for five years. She also obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from the Pennsylvania State University in 2005. Jessica's research primarily focuses on ambient air pollution and chronic disease, and she is also interested in rural health disparities and the built environment. In her spare time, you will find Jessica hanging out with her husband and their two daughters, reading English history books, and baking.

Amy Wang

Amy is currently a senior undergraduate kinesiology student in the School of Public Health at University of Maryland College Park. Before transferring to Maryland in 2015, Amy attended Pennsylvania State University as a Life Science major. She plans to purse a career in physical therapy, possibly in the pediatric field after graduation. As for extracurricular activities, Amy is currently the vice president of the UMD Pre-Physical Therapy Association as well as a member of the UMD's Women's Club Volleyball Team. During her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, playing volleyball, and traveling.

Anika Khan

Anika is a junior undergraduate student at the University of Maryland College Park. She is majoring in Neurobiology and Physiology and is part of the Global Public Health Scholar’s Program. Anika is very interested in medicine and has plans to go to medical school after she graduates. During her first year of college, she had conducted research in plant genetics at the Department of Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture and completed a project about cold stress tolerance in plants. In her spare time, she loves working with children, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.

Yasi Hosseini

Yasi is currently a senior undergraduate student in the School of Public Health majoring in Public Health Science. Prior to transferring to UMD, she earned her Associate’s Degree with Honors from Montgomery College. While at MC, Yasi had the opportunity to conduct research at the Library of Congress through an internship program in preparation for her culminating Capstone paper related to the relationship between happiness and health in a global context. Her other past research experiences include assisting with studies related to Cataracts and Pterygium in an Ophthalmology setting. In her free time, Yasi enjoys trying new recipes, doing Yoga, and teaching Iranian dance.

Meghana Annadata

Meghana is a senior pre-med public health science student at the University of Maryland College Park.  She hopes to become a physician and researchers in the future.  Meghana was part of Entouraas, and Indian folk dance team.  She enjoys baking, singind and dancing.

Shriya Dalsania

Shriya is currently a senior undergraduate student in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland College Park. She is majoring in Public Health Science, and recently received her citation for the College Park Global Public Health Scholar's Program. Shriya plans to attend Nursing School, and get her Master in Public Health after she graduates. Recently, Shriya has had the opportunity to intern with the School of Public Health's Healthy Futures Program, in which she focused on improving maternal and child health through interventions. She was also part of Entouraas, UMD's intercollegiate Indian folk dance team. 

Linda Kuo

Linda is an undergraduate sophmore at the University of Maryland College Park pursuing a degree in Public Health Science. She is interested in Therapeutic Recreation and plans to join the Peace Corps or Americorps after graduation. Linda is also an Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Organizing Student Intern with the Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy Office. She currently works as a Theatrical Lighting Technician at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. In her free time, Linda enjoys gardening, making art, and dancing.

PHOEBE's Research Projects

Purple Line Outcomes on Transportation (PLOT) Study

Approximately two-thirds of adults and youth in Prince George’s (PG) County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. comprised predominantly of African Americans, are overweight or obese. While weight reduction and maintenance is associated with physical activity, only 46% of adults and 35% of youth are achieving physical activity recommendations within PG County. Active transportation (AT) is considered a strategic pathway to improving physical activity levels and thus reducing overweight and obesity levels. Utilizing an expansion of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) system, as a natural experiment, the Purple Line Outcomes on Transportation (PLOT) Study will exam Metro pre- and post-Purple Line light rail PT use, AT behaviors and attitudes and physical activity among PG County adults and youth. PLOT will take advantage of this natural experiment in PG County, an area enduring significantly pronounced racial/ethnic and gender based overweight or obesity and physical inactivity disparities. In order to effectively evaluate PT use, AT behaviors and attitudes and physical activity among this PG County population, efforts will be used to recruit African American and Latino populations, the first and second most common racial/ethnic groups in PG County, who are (a) disproportionally impacted by physical inactivity related health outcomes, and (b) underrepresented historically, as well as, in research studies. Finally, PLOT will also examine how contextual effects (e.g., neighborhood built environment; sociodemographics; “sense of place”) impact PT and AT and how these variables promote physical activity. 

Built Environment and Active Play (BEAP) Study

Research has demonstrated that children who participate in active play are more likely to be physically active, thereby improving long-term health outcomes. Many adult studies have also shown that neighborhood built environments can encourage or discourage routine physical activity. Limited evidence has demonstrated that children who reside in neighborhoods with a built environment that is more inviting to active play exhibit lower overweight and obesity rates as well as an overall better state of well-being.  The Built Environment and Active Play (BEAP) Study will attempt to provide a broad view of factors, specifically neighborhood and/or social factors, influencing the level and type of active play among children in the Washington, DC (DMV) region, an area with a unique population of racial and ethnic diversity.

Physical Environment and Active Transportation (PEAT) Study

Active transportation, such as walking, biking or using public transportation, as a means of transportation, has increasingly been viewed as a strategic and integral pathway to increasing physical activity levels in youth and thus reducing overweight or obesity levels.  The Physical Environment and Active Transportation (PEAT) Study will evaluate how the new Silver Line Metrorail of the Washington, DC rapid transit system contributes to adolescent active transportation habits and how these transportation habits can potentially affect adolescents’ physical activity levels and overweight/obesity rates.

Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation (PG-Parks) Project

For this project, consultation will be provided to the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation (PG-Parks) for the execution of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) for their "Formula 40: Functional Master Plan for Parks, Recreation and Open Space" Trail Master Plan. 

 

What's new with PHOEBE?

"These Commutes are Made for Walking"

PHOEBE Lab research was featured in the UMD Terp Magazine in an articled entitled “These Commutes are Made for Walking – Professor Explores How Built Environments Affect Health”.

2018 Active Living Research Conference

Dr. Roberts will be presenting PEAT Study research findings with an oral presentations at the Active Living Research Conference held February 11 - February 14, 2018 in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

Awarded UMD Tier I Grant

PHOEBE Lab was awarded a University of Maryland Faculty Incentive (Tier I) Seed Grant to conduct the Purple Line Outcomes on Transportation (PLOT) Study.

Congratulations Dina!

Dina Huang received 1st Place (Doctoral) at 2017 Public Health Research@Maryland Day for her poster presentation of BEAP Study research entitled "Outdoor and Indoor Play Predictors in Washington DC Metropolitan Children".

Visiting Appointment at the University of Otago

Dr. Roberts has received a visiting appointment in the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Congratulations Lindsey!

Lindsey received a Jacob K. Goldhaber Travel Grant to present BEAP Study research at the 2017 Active Living Research Conference.

Dr. Antronette (Toni) Yancey and Darlene Edgley Fellowship

Dr. Roberts received the 2017 conference assistance award from the Yancey and Edgley Fellowship for Health, Promotion, Physical Fitness and Community Health Education to present BEAP Study research at the 2017 Active Living Research Conference

Active Living and Environment: Towards a Healthier and More Sustainable Future

Dr. Roberts has been invited to be a symposium speaker at the Active Living and Environment International Symposium on August 28-30, 2017 in Dunedin, New Zealand. 

2017 International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting

BEAP Study research has been accepted for the Active Play symposium at the 2017 International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting, which will be held June 7-10, 2017 in Victoria, Canada. 

Children's Environmental Health Network Conference

Research from the PHOEBE Laboratory has been accepted for an oral presentation at the 2017 Translational Research Conference: New Challenges, which will be held April 5-7, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia.

2017 Active Living Research Conference

Dr. Roberts and Lindsey Rodkey will be presenting BEAP Study research findings with oral and poster presentations at the Active Living Research Conference held February 26 - March 1, 2017 in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Way to Go Lindsey Rodkey!

Lindsey successfully presented her MPH proposal titled "Development of a Mobile Phone App to Encourage City Youth to be Physically Active in Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park".

Participating in the AmericaWALKS Workshop

PHOEBE Laboratory participating in the AmericaWALKS "Advancing Dissemination and Implementation Research on Walking and Walkability: Developing Research Priorities" workshop at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health in Washington, DC on August 26, 2016.

Welcome Davette and Cortney to the PHOEBE Laboratory!

Davette Vice (Ronald McNair Scholars Program) and Cortney Grisham (University of Maryland Summer Training and Research (STAR) Program) will join the PHOEBE Laboratory as 2016 summer research interns. 

2016 International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health

Research from the PHOEBE Laboratory has been accepted for an oral presentation at the 6th International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health, which will be held November 16-19, 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand.

ASPPH Friday Letter Features PHOEBE Laboratory Research

Research findings from the BEAP Study was featured in the Associate of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Friday Letter - May 20, 2016. The Friday letter features the latest research, opportunities, and groundbreaking developments from CEPH-accredited schools and programs of public health. 

New BEAP Study Publication

Recently published manuscript in Preventive Medicine Reports entitled "Parental perceived built environment measures and active play in Washington DC metropolitan children" found that active children's parents reported a greater presence of built environment amenities and facilities that supported neighborhood active play compared to the parents of less active children.

Way to Go Jessica Montresor-Lopez!

Jessica's passed her PhD qualifying exam titled "Exposure to Air Toxins and Autism Spectrum Disorder".

Congratulations to Myles Davenport!

Myles was selected among a highly competitive group of students to participate in the 2016 Public Health Leadership and Learning Undergraduate Study Success (PLLUSS) Program at the Kennedy Kreiger Institute funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  This PLLUSS Program is a 10-week summer program intended for undergraduate junior scholars majoring in public health which will provide students with public health research and communty health activities, mentorship and professional development.

2016 International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting

Research from the BEAP Study has been accepted as a poster presentation at the 2016 International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting, which will be held June 8-11, 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. 

Congratulations to Jessica Montresor-Lopez!

Jessica's Rapid Communications submission entitled "Outdoor and Indoor Play Predictors in Washington DC Metropolitan Children" has been accepted as a poster presentation at the 37th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, which will be held March 30-April 2, 2016, at the Washington Hilton in Washington DC.

2016 Active Living Research Conference

PHOEBE Laboratory presented a poster entitled “Parental perceived built environment measures and active play in Washington DC Metropolitan children” at the Active Living Research Conference held January 31-February 3, 2016 in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

PHOEBE's Partners

The work of the PHOEBE Laboratory would not be possible without the support of many funding agencies and community partnerships. Click on the pictures below to learn more about our partners.

 
   
   

 

Have you seen PHOEBE's Team Members?

Dr. Roberts spent a week teaching the students from the Kyung Hee University Summer Active Learning Program for Excellence
Dr. Roberts presenting a symposium along with Dr. Mariana Brusson, Dr. Ian Janssen, and Ms. Avril Johnstone at the International Society of Behavioral Nurtition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting in Victoria, Canada, June 9, 2017.
Anika presented PEAT Study research on adolescent active transportation at the UMD Scholars Showcase on May 4, 2017.
Tara presented BEAP Study research on immigrant youth involvement in sports teams for her Kinesiology Honors Thesis Presentation on May, 5, 2017.
Tara presented BEAP Study research at 2017 Public Health Research@Maryland Day entitiled "Obesity Disparities among Minority and Immigrant Youth: Are Sports Teams a Venue for Intervention" in College Park, MD, April 6, 2017.

Dr. Roberts presenting research on youth sedentary behaviors at the Active Living Research Conference in Clearwater, FL, February 28,  2017.

Lindsey presented BEAP Study research at the Active Living Research Conference entitiled "Family Dog Ownership, Parental Perceived Built Environmet Measures, and Physical Activity Levels among Washington, DC Area Children" in Clearwater, FL, February 26-March 1, 2017.

Dr. Roberts presenting at the 6th International Congress on Physical Activity and Health Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, November 16, 2016.

Myles, Meg, Anika, Yasi and Shriya enjoying themselves at the PHOEBE Lab luncheon.  Thank you Namaste!

Cortney presenting PEAT Study research at the UM Star Oral Presentation, University of Maryland College Park, August 9, 2016.

Davette presenting PEAT Study research at the McNair Scholars Poster Presentation, University of Maryland College Park, July 8, 2016.

Prior to presenting at the Interational Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, June 8-11, 2016, Dr. Roberts was able to "get active" exploring the Masiphumelele Township.

Jessica presenting BEAP Study research at the Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Washington, DC, March 31, 2016.

Dr. Roberts presenting at the Maryland Center for Health Equity (M-CHE) Collegium of Scholars on BEAP Study research, March 9, 2016.

"Where have all the children gone? Findings from the Built Environment and Active Play (BEAP) Study" Collegium of Scholars Spring 2016 Presentation.

Hanging with Jim Sallis at the Sedentary Behavior and Health Conference, Urbana-Champaign, IL, October 17, 2015.

 

Contact Us!

For any questions about our research projects or ways to get involved with the PHOEBE Laboratory please feel free to contact us.

Dr. Jennifer D. Roberts
Department of Kinesiology
School of Public Health
University of Maryland
4200 Valley Drive
Building #255
College Park, MD 20742
Phone: 301.405.7748
Email: jenrob@umd.edu