Symposium Speakers 2019

Marc Berman, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Chicago

Marc Berman is an Associate Professor of Psychology and is the Director of the Environmental Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Chicago. In his research he applies novel statistical and computational models to quantify brain networks and applies those metrics to broader psychological phenomena such as self-control, depression, anxiety and cognitive effort. He and his lab are also interested in quantifying the physical and social environment to better understand brain-environment interactions and how those interactions can be used to understand human behavior. In particular, Berman and his team are trying to understand why natural environments have beneficial effects on body and mind. Berman received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience and Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2010. He is the recipient of the 2018 Association for Psychological Science's (APS) Early Career Research Award and the Neubauer Faculty Development Fellowship for excellence in teaching and mentorship. His work has been featured in many publications including the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Boston Globe, Chicago Magazine, the Toronto Star and the Wall Street Journal.

Louise Chawla, Professor Emerita of Environmental Design, University of Colorado-Boulder

Louise Chawla is Professor Emerita in the Program in Environmental Design at the University of Colorado Boulder. She remains actively engaged in the program’s Community Engagement, Design and Research Center, including the Growing Up Boulder program which she helped establish, which integrates children and youth into urban planning and design. Given a masters in Education and Child Development from Bryn Mawr College and a doctorate in Environmental Psychology from the City University of New York, her work focuses on the creation of optimal community environments for young people and the development of active care for the natural world in childhood and youth. With her colleagues Victoria Derr and Mara Mintzer, Dr. Chawla is co-author of the recent book Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Processes for Planning Sustainable Cities, which synthesizes lessons learned about how to establish lasting coalitions to give young people a voice in the creation of child-friendly places and describes a wide range of participatory methods. From 1996 through 2006, Dr. Chawla coordinated the Growing Up in Cities Program of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), which involved young adolescents in the evaluation and improvement of public spaces in low income urban areas around the world. Based on this experience, she edited and co-authored the book Growing Up in an Urbanising World, a collection of case studies and reflections on best practices, as well as many other publications on this topic. Her other major topics of research and publication are children and nature, nature and health, and the development of lifelong habits of stewardship. Dr. Chawla served as primary advisor to Richard Louv during his writing of Last Child in the Woods, and she is an active member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Children and Nature Network, including its initiative on nature-based learning.

Terry Hartig, Professor of Psychology, Uppsala University

Terry Hartig has extensive experience in studying restorative processes and the environments that support them. He has contributed to this field through development of basic theory, methods, and infrastructure, and with findings from studies of restoration in residential, work, institutional and recreational contexts. His best known work concerns restorative benefits of nature experience, and he is frequently cited in the scientific literature on nature and health. He also has a long history of service to the applied research community, through extensive international collaborations, review and editorial activities, and support to scientific societies, currently as president of the Environmental Psychology Division of the International Association for Applied Psychology and as a member of the Coordination Committee of the European Network for Housing Research.

Harry Heft, Professor of Psychology, Denison University

Harry Heft, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Denison University, has been an active participant in the areas of ecological psychology and environmental psychology for over four decades. He has carried out research and written on the relationships between the environment and child development, the perception of affordances, environmental aesthetics, way-finding, place and behavior settings, and the co-evolution of socio-cultural processes and cognition. He also engages in scholarship in the areas of theoretical psychology and the history of psychology. A Fellow in APA and APS, he is the author of Ecological Psychology in Context: James Gibson, Roger Barker, and the Legacy of William James (2001). He has served as an Associate Editor of Ecological Psychology and the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

William Sullivan, Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

William Sullivan works to create healthier, more sustainable communities. He is Professor and Head of Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois where he and his students examine the benefits that come from having regular exposure to urban landscapes containing green infrastructure. Sullivan is a Senior Fellow at the National Council for Science and the Environment, Adjunct Professor at National Taiwan University in Taipei, and is an active member of the University of Illinois’ Education Justice Project.  Sullivan holds a PhD from the University of Michigan with a concentration in Environment and Behavior.

Agnes van den Berg, Professor of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen

Agnes Van den Berg is a Professor in the Perception and Evaluation of Nature and Landscape at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. As an environmental psychologist, she specializes in research on health benefits of nature. She is a pioneering and leading researcher in this field. Her research interests encompass fundamental and applied issues related to the causes, mechanisms and health consequences of  people’s positive responses to nature. In particular, she has examined the role of visual complexity and fractals in nature’s restorative potential. Van den Berg has (co-)authored more than 100 peer-refereed and professional publications, including the textbook of Environmental Psychology published by Wiley-Blackwell. She is an experienced speaker who has taught courses in environmental psychology for many years and she regularly presents her work to various national and international audiences. Agnes van den Berg combines her professorship with her own privately owned research company. Through this company she participates in many projects that examine benefits of nature and nature-based interventions in diverse settings, such as hospitals, schools, and prisons. 


Nancy Wells, Professor of Human Ecology, Cornell University

Nancy Wells is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, in the Department of Design & Environmental Analysis in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University. As an environmental psychologist, Dr. Wells studies the effects of the built and natural environment on human health, well-being, and health behaviors.  Her studies have examined the effects of housing quality on mental health; the influence of neighborhood design on walking; the effects of nature on cognitive functioning and psychological well-being; and the influence of school gardens on children’s diet and physical activity. At Cornell, Nancy teaches Environments & Health, Health Impact Assessment, and graduate Research Methods.  Dr. Wells is an Associate Editor of Environment & Behavior and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Children and Nature Network.