Nancy Wells and her interdisciplinary research team in the Department of Design & Environmental Analysis at Cornell focus on the effects of the built and natural environment on human health and health behaviors. Our studies have examined topics such as the effects of housing quality on mental health of low-income women who rivatartnered with Habitat for Humanity; the influence of neighborhood design on physical activity; and the effects of nature views and nature access on cognitive functioning and psychological well being. Current activities include studies of school gardens, the development of various measures to operationalize both environmental characteristics and behavioral outcomes, and testing of the Retirees In Service to the Environment (RISE) program.
Dr. Wells’ lab integrates research, teaching and outreach. Research efforts involve the design of practical yet rigorous studies in an effort to assess causal relations between the environment and health; the development of valid and reliable measures; and, when possible, the identification of causal pathways. Teaching and mentorship involves undergraduates and graduate students engaged in all stages of the research process from data collection to publication. Findings are disseminated to stakeholders in an effort to contribute to evidence-based environments, policies, and decision-making.