About Dr. Roberts

Active Living Researcher

  • Dr. Jennifer D. Roberts is an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Maryland College Park, School of Public Health. She is also the Director of the Public Health Outcomes and Effects of the Built Environment (PHOEBE) Laboratory. Her research 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.  


  • Ongoing research, such as her Built Environment and Active Play (BEAP) and Physical Environment and Active Transportation (PEAT) Studies have incorporated state of the art techniques, such as spatial analysis and geographic information system modeling in order to objectively capture the role and relationship of physical activity determinants. Crosscutting issues including exposure (e.g. recreational deserts) and outcome (e.g. childhood obesity) health disparities have also been addressed in her research physical activity and public health programs. With the forthcoming 16-mile Purple Line light rail as an expansion of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area transportation system, Dr. Roberts will conduct the Purple Line Outcomes on Transportation (PLOT) Study.  The PLOT Study will be a natural experiment examining pre- and post-Purple Line light rail active transportation behaviors and attitudes  among Prince George’s County, Maryland adults and youth.  


  • In addition to research funding from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Roberts has also been awarded funding from the National Institutes of Health as well as professional development awards from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her research has been cited by the American Heart Association and featured in the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health Friday Letter, the Washington Post, Reuters, Baltimore Sun, Bethesda Magazine and on the local Maryland News Station, WDVM TV News. She was inducted into the Gamma Zeta Chapter of Delta Omega National Honorary Society for Public Health and was selected as for a “Very Important Professionals Successful By 40” Award by “The Daily Record”.   


  • A native of Buffalo, New York, Dr. Roberts graduated from Buffalo Seminary High School and received her Bachelor of Arts (AB) degree from Brown University. She holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and earned her Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.  



Cover Photo by John T. Consoli  

Find Out More

University of Maryland

PHOEBE Laboratory

Speaking Engagements

  • “Community Based Active Living Research in the Washington DC Area”. NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, DC Cardiovascular Health and Obesity Collaborative, Community Advisory Board Meeting. Howard University, Washington, DC, June 25, 2018.


  • “Transportation Equity Issues in the State of Maryland”. 4th Symposium on Environmental Justice and Health Disparities in Maryland and the Washington, DC Region, College Park, MD, May 12, 2018.


  • “Piscataway Park Rx Day Keynote Speaker”. Park Rx America and Accokeek Foundation, Accokeek, MD, April 29, 2018.


  • “Sedentary Behaviors Among Washington, DC Area Children: Findings from the BEAP Study”. Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth & Families Foundation, Arlington, VA, December 18, 2017 


  • “Transit, Obesity and Public Health”. Action Committee for Transit, Silver Spring Civic Center, Silver Spring, MD, October 10, 2017.


  • “Symposium Speaker Presentation - Active Living Among Washington, DC Area Youth”. International Symposium "Active Living and Environment: Towards a Healthier and More Sustainable Future", University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, August 29, 2017.


  • “Active Transportation Behaviors and Perceptions Among Washington, DC Area Youth”. International Symposium "Active Living and Environment: Towards a Healthier and More Sustainable Future", University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, August 28, 2017.   


  • “Built Environment and Active Living Among Washington, DC Area Youth”. Active Living Laboratory Research Seminar Series, School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, August 8, 2017.


  • “Kids, Let’s Stand Up!: Findings from the Built Environment and Active Play Study”. Counseling Center’s Research and Development Series, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, October 19, 2016.


  • “Active Transportation Among Washington, DC Area Children”. National Center for Smart Growth, 2016 Brown Bay Webinar Series, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, October 3, 2016. 


  • “Sedentary Behaviors Among Washington, DC Area Children”. Fall Seminar Series, Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology. University of Maryland, College Park, MD, September 28, 2016.


  • “Where Have All the Children Gone: Findings from the Built Environment and Active Play Study”. Maryland Center for Health Equity (M-CHE) Collegium of Scholars, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, March 9, 2016.  

Media Contributions

Video Interview


Radio Interview

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Jennifer D. Roberts, DrPH, MPH