Teresa Horton

Photo of Teresa Horton Associate Professor of Research
Park Rx America
Email: thorton@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-467-1686

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Research Disciplines: Research Interests:

Public health benefits of nature, ecopsychology, environmental psychology, social determinants of health, developmental origins of health and disease, behavioral neuroendocrinology

View Teresa's CV

Biographical Sketch

As a human biologist, I am an interdisciplinary scientist. I use the theories and techniques of anthropology, behavioral endocrinology, ecology, evolution, physiology, and psychology to investigate the mechanisms by which organisms, including humans, adapt to their environment. My early work focused on the neural and endocrine mechanisms by which rodents adapt to seasonal changes in day length, temperature, and energy availability; mechanisms that enable animals to be flexible in the face of environmental change. This work contributed to the rapidly expanding body of literature demonstrating the evolutionary significance of early life experiences (including pre- and peri-natal) and the developmental origins of health and disease.

Since joining the Laboratory for Human Biology Research in the Department of Anthropology, I have been able to use my knowledge and skills to conduct studies that speak directly to the question of how the environment influences human health and well-being. Just as wild species show impaired physical and mental health when removed from their optimal environments, so do humans. While much necessary and important research has documented the negative effects of the environment on health (e.g., brownfields, air pollution, lead contamination), researchers have only relatively recently focused on documenting the salutary effects of high quality green and blue spaces. My current research uses biomarkers and psychological assessments to test the hypothesis that access to natural landscapes contributes to improved health, wellbeing, and resilience of humans by offering an escape from the stressors of urban life.

Recent publications include:

de Brito, J. N., Pope, Z. C., Mitchell, N. R., Schneider, I. E., Larson, J. M., Horton, T. H., & Pereira, M. A. (2019). Changes in Psychological and Cognitive Outcomes after Green versus Suburban Walking: A Pilot Crossover Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 16(16). doi:10.3390/ijerph16162894

Pearson, A. L., Shortridge, A., Delamater, P. L., Horton, T. H., Dahlin, K., Rzotkiewicz, A., & Marchiori, M. J. (2019). Effects of freshwater blue spaces may be beneficial for mental health: A first, ecological study in the North American Great Lakes region. PLoS One, 14(8), e0221977. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0221977

Selected Interviews:

A Healthy Dose of Nature. (2019).WWTW Chicago Public Media. https://interactive.wttw.com/urbannature/healthy-dose-nature#!/


  • Ph.D. Biology – Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology. University of Utah
  • B.S. Zoology. University of Washington

Other Research

Current projects include:

  1. Walking Green – Developing an evidence base for nature prescriptions. (T. Horton, PI. Funded by The Negaunee Foundation)
  2. Impact of ecological park restoration on health in low income neighborhoods: A natural experiment (A. Pearson (Michigan State University), PI; T. Horton co-investigator.  Funded by NIH/NCI)

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