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WIN20: Nature & Health Talks

Nature & Health is hosting three talks this winter quarter. Join exciting discussions of current research focused on the benefits of the connections between nature and health.


All three events will be held in Anderson Hall Room 22

Up Next:

March 11, 2020 | 12:30-1:30 PM:

Title: Nature Interaction and Human Well-being: A Hypothesized Model of Feeling a Sense of Presence in Nature, Presented by Carly Gray, PhD Student.

About: Over the last three decades, there has been an increasing and convincing body of evidence for the physical and mental health benefits of interacting with nature. However, there has been surprisingly little focus on how people’s psychological states during a nature experience may influence these benefits. In this talk, I will focus on one such psychological state: what I refer to as a sense of presence in nature. I will discuss a new scale we developed – the Presence in Nature Scale – and how it is currently being used in a sample of young girls. I will then show how the scale data can be combined with a qualitative analysis of the girls’ interactions with nature. Taken together, this work then leads to a hypothesized mediation model. I will talk for 30 minutes, answer questions for 10 minutes, and then facilitate open informal discussion among the group.

Bio: Carly Gray is a first-year Ph.D. student in developmental psychology at the University of Washington. She earned her B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of Notre Dame. Her research with the Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems (HINTS) Lab (directed by Professor Peter Kahn) focuses on characterizing the ways in which young people interact with the natural world using what’s called an “interaction pattern approach.” A few of her questions include: How can we effectively engage young people in a relationship with nature to improve their mental and physical well-being and pro-environmental attitudes? How does bringing technology, especially digital technology, into nature affect young people’s experiences with each other and with nature?

Past Events:

January 29, 2020 | 12:30-1:30 PM: Lunch will be provided, first come-first served.

Title: Designing for Health in the Informal Amphibious Community, Iquitos. Presented by Leann Andrews, PhD & Coco Alarcon, PhD student.

About: Peru has significantly increased mining and oil extraction in the last decade, degrading Amazon Rainforest ecosystems and indigenous livelihoods, interrupting local to global climate regulation, and resulting in rapid jungle-to-city migration with ultimately 90,000+ people living in informal “amphibious” communities floating in the floodplain borders of the jungle city. These indigenous migrants struggle adapting from nature rich lifestyles to the harsh urban slums, manifesting in a multitude of physical, mental, social and environmental health issues. Leann Andrews and Coco Alarcón will discuss InterACTION Labs: Iquitos, a transdisciplinary action research program that fuses scientific, indigenous and professional knowledge to design landscape architecture interventions with an informal amphibious community in Iquitos, Peru. They will share preliminary human and ecological health impacts of the designs, and discuss implications to One Health, Planetary Health, diseases of poverty, climate change resilience, generational amnesia, and global environmental justice.

Bios: Leann Andrews and Coco Alarcón are landscape architects and global health researchers, co-founders of the non-profit Traction and co-directors of the InterACTION Labs program in Iquitos Peru. Coco is also currently a PhD student in Implementation Science at UW and Leann is an Affiliate Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture and research staff in the UW Green Futures Lab. They have been working on community design projects that strategically improve human and ecological health for vulnerable populations in both Peru and the United States since 2009.

February 12, 2020 | 12:30-1:30 PM: Presented by Sara Park Perrins, PhC. Please bring your own lunch.

Title: Nature contact and psychological wellbeing

About: Growing empirical evidence demonstrates the ways in which nature contact may be a source of improved psychological wellbeing for urbanites, but the existing literature is dominated by cross-sectional designs and self-report assessments. Sara Perrins will discuss recent and ongoing projects within the Environment and Wellbeing Lab at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences that address these gaps through rigorous study designs, investigations into causal pathways and moderators of effects, and the use of objective assessment methods. Together, these integrated approaches aim to increase our understanding of the health benefits of nature, motivate future research, and inform policy in ways that connect people to nature and support conservation efforts as well.