Jennifer D. Roberts

  • Dr. Jennifer D. Roberts is an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Maryland School of Public Health in College Park. 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  Light Rail Impact on Neighborhood, Health and Transit (PLIGHT) Study.  The PLIGHT 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 residents.  


  • 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