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Research Projects

Digital Twin City for Age-Friendly Communities


• Team Members: Dr. Ahn (PI), Drs. Caspari, Lee, Ham, Zanwar, Tan, Manser (Co-PIs)
• Funded by: X-Grant, Texas A&M University


Urban Green (Infra)structure for Pedestrian Health


• Team Members: Dr. Lee (PI), Drs. Hankey and Bratman (Co-PIs)
• Funded by: Research Innovation Fund, Center for Health & Nature

Project Summary


ENDEAVR: Envisioning the Neo-traditional Development by Embracing the Autonomous Vehicles Realm


This project is to develop a new pedagogical model to prepare students from multiple disciplines to be prepared for the cities of the future. This model will be scalable and transferable to other higher- education institutions across the nation, facilitating interdisciplinary, project-oriented, and community-based learning.

• Team Members: Dr. Li (PI), Drs Lee, Talebpour, Bologan, Caspari (Co-PIs)
• Funded by: W.M. KECK Foundation


Fighting Obesity by Reinventing Public Transportation: A Natural Experiment


A natural experimental study to evaluate health and mobility impacts of bus rapid transit; to examine costs and benefits of bus rapid transit implementation; and to explore barriers and facilitators of bus rapid transit use.

• Team Members: Drs. Lee, Li and Ory (multi-PIs)
• Funded by: National Institute of Health


Dementia-Friendly Communities to Promote Active Living in Persons with AD/ADRD


This administrative supplement enhances its parent grant (above) by identifying environmental strategies to promote physical activity, social interaction, and independence of people with AD/ADRD and to reduce burdens on their caregivers.

• Team Members: Drs. Lee, Zhu and Ory (multi-PIs)
• Funded by: National Institute of Health


Assessing the Impact of Public Transit on Physical Activity: A Natural Experimental Study in El Paso, Texas


This study is to examine the causal impact of this new transit system on nearby residents’ PA. The case residents are adults who are not meeting the PA recommendation (150+min/week) at baseline and who later become BRT users (using 4+ one-way trips/week). The comparison residents are adults from the same neighborhoods as the case residents but who are not meeting the PA recommendation at baseline and not BRT users.

• Team Members: Drs. Lee, Li, and Ory (Co-PIs)
• Funded by: Program Development Fund, Office of the Vice Present for Research, Texas A&M University


Physical Activity Impacts of a Planned Activity-Friendly Community: The What, Where, When and Why of Environmental Approaches to Obesity Prevention


This study is to evaluate short-term and long-term changes in physical activity and in spatial and temporal patterns of physical activity, after sedentary or insufficiently active individuals move from non-Activity-Friendly Communities (AFC) to an AFC.

• Team Members: Drs. Lee, Zhu, and Ory (Co-PIs)
• Funded by: National Institute of Health


Evaluation of a Walking School Bus Program: A cluster randomized controlled trial


This study is to evaluate the long-term efficacy of a Walking School Bus program to increase low-income, ethnic minority children’s active commuting to school and physical activity.

• Team Members: Mendoza (PI), Dr. Lee (Co-I/ Sub-award PI)
• Funded by: National Institute of Health


Neighborhood Safety, Physical Activity, and Obesity


This study is to examine the associations among neighborhood safety, physical activity, obesity, and health-related quality of life.

• Team Members: Forjuoh (PI), Dr. Lee (Co-PI)
• Funded by: Scott and White Hospital


Does an Activity-Friendly Community Improve Children's Physical Activity?: Where, When, and How?


This study is to examine if and how moving to an activity-friendly community (a) increase children's physical activity, (b) promote positive attitudes and social supports for physical activity, and (c) reduced physical activity disparities among mixed-income residents.

• Team Members: Dr. Lee (Co-PI), Dr. Zhu (PI)
• Funded by: Johns Hopkins University


Evaluating Health Impacts of Walkable Communities: Best Practices and a Toolkit for Future Design and Research


This study is to examine if walkable communities can increase physical activity, and how health impacts of walkable communities can be measured to guide community design and outcome evaluation.

• Team Members: Dr. Lee (Co-PI), Dr. Zhu (PI)
• Funded by: American Institute of Architects


Perceived and actual economic values of activity-friendly environments: Willingness-to-pay and willingness-to use


This study is to evaluate economic values of living near activity-friendly resources and away from activity-hostile facilities, using visually simulated images to facilitate the evaluation process.

• Team Members: Dr. Lee (PI)
• Funded by: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Policy Interventions for Green, Healthy and Economic School Transportation: GIS-Based simulation and evaluation of multiple policy interventions


This study is to assess multiple policy intervention scenarios using GIS and propose evidence-based recommendations for future interventions.

• Team Members: Dr. Lee (Co-PI), Dr. Zhu (PI)
• Funded by: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 


Federal Safe Routes to School Program: Multi-State evaluation and national evaluation framework


This 5-State collaborative research is to conduct systematic and comparative evaluations of SRTS programs.

• Team Members: Dr. Lee (Co-PI), McDonald (PI)
• Funded by: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Rural Town Walkability: Measuring the effect of the built environment


This study 3-region collaborative research is to identify built environmental elements that promote walking in small towns. Dr. Lee is the PI for the Texas region portion of the study.

• Team Members: Dr. Lee (Co-I/Sub-award PI), Doescher (PI)
• Funded by: National Institute of Health


Statewide Evaluation of Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies in Texas: Texas Safe Routes to School & Increased Healthy Food Access for WIC Clients (T-COPPE)


Routes to School & Increased Healthy Food Access for WIC Clients (T-COPPE).
This research is to conduct a statewide evaluation of two key childhood obesity prevention policies in Texas: the Safe Routes To School (SRTS) program; and the program rule revising the federal food allocation package administered through Texas Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program. I am involved in the assessment of environmental factors and the SRTS program, and in the statistical analysis of the project.

• Team Members: Dr. Lee (Co-I), Ory & Hoelscher, Co-PI (Co-PI)
• Funded by: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


The "Whys" and "Why Nots" of Active Living: Barriers and Motivators among HighRisk Children


This research examines multi-level natural and virtual experiments to identify specific interventions effective in promoting walking and physical activity and reducing obesity among high-risk groups of children. It will identify barriers and otivators of active living; examine disparities in environmental supports for active living; and identify varying distance thresholds for walking in different environmental settings.

• Team Members: Dr. Lee(PI), Dr. Sui(Co- PI), Dr. Zhu(Project Manager & Co-PI), Dr. Varni(Co-I)
• Funded by: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living Research Program


Safety, Health, and Equity for Active School Transportation: Interactions among Multi- Level Factors and Specific Needs of Low-Income Hispanic Children


This research aims: 1) to examine the mediating and moderating factors in the relationship between objective physical environment and active school transportation; 2) to examine the environmental supports and threats among low-income Hispanic children; and 3) to identify an acceptable walking distance for elementary school children and to test whether this distance varies by race or physical context.

• Team Members: Dr. Zhu(PI), Dr. Lee(Co-PI), Drs. Varni(Co-I), Dr.Kwok(Co-I)
• Funded by: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living Research Program


Urban Hispanic Perceptions of Environment and Activity among Kids (UH-PEAK)


This research assesses the role of environmental variables, child and maternal perceptions of physical activity friendliness of the home, school, and park environments in predicting physical activity behaviors among Hispanic elementary school students.

• Team Members: Dr. Olvera(PI), Dr. Lee(Co-PI), Dr. Bush(Co-I), Dr. Smith(Co-I)
• Funded by: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living Research Program


Assessing the Built Environment in Colonias to Influence Policy Promoting Physical Activity in Mexican American Children and Families


Activity in Mexican American Children and Families
This study is to produce environmental policy recommendations promoting physical activity (PA) in economically-disadvantaged, understudied Mexican American children and families

• Team Members: Dr. Mier(PI), Dr. Lee(Co-I)
• Funded by: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Salud America Program


Campus Environment, Diet and Activity: Does the environment have a role in promoting health behaviors among TAMU students?


promoting health behaviors among TAMU students?
This pilot study is to explore the impact of food and physical activity environments where students live, work and study on energy expenditure. It will also compare diet and physical activity behaviors among under-weight, normal, overweight, and obese groups of students.

• Team Members: Dr. Lee(PI), Dr. Murano(Co-PI)
• Funded by: Institute for Obesity Research and Program Evaluation, Texas A&M University; and College Research and Interdisciplinary Council, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University


Promoting Walking among Obese and Diabetic Patients in Integrated Health Care Plans: Physician and environmental determinants


It explores how the characteristics of the neighborhood environment influence physical activity and walking among those who are clinically obese and/or diabetic. It examines the extent to which health care providers encourage walking or provide specific written prescriptions for exercise for their patients, and are aware of the environmental influences on health behaviors.

• Team Members: Dr. Lee(Co-PI), Dr. Forjuoh(Co-PI), Dr. Ory(Co-I) 
• Funded by: Scott and White Hospital


Transportation Infrastructure and Quality of Life for Disadvantage Populations: A pilot study of two colonias in Texas


It examines the quality of the transportation infrastructure and the overall built environment to identify factors that contribute to health and quality of life for the economically challenged, Hispanic populations living in Texas colonias (small border communities along the US-Mexico border).

• Team Members: Dr. Lee(Co-PI), Dr. Giusti(Co-PI), Dr. Lord(Co-PI) 
• Funded by: Southwest University Transportation Center, Texas Transportation Institute