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Impact of Greenspace Improvement on Physical Activity in a Low Income Community
Collaboration with Dr. Tamara Dubowitz

Increasing evidence suggests that there are associations between a neighborhood environments and levels of physical activity among its residents. However, it is unknown whether self-selection biases account for the associations, or whether geographic accessibility causally leads to greater PA. In the near future, a low-income, predominantly African American neighborhood (the Hill District) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will undergo a multi-million dollar endeavor to renovate approximately 30 acres of greenspace. This research will capitalize on a rare opportunity to evaluate this large natural experiment by assessing greenspace use and physical activity before and after renovations as well as changes in physical activity levels as measured by accelerometry and self-repot. This study aims to determine the impact of greenspace renovations on physical activity (e.g., minutes of moderate-to- vigorous physical activity), measured by accelerometry and self-report, before and after renovations compared to a matched control group. This study will also identify what extent the relationship between greenspace renovations and PA is: a) mediated by social norms and self-efficacy to engage in physical activity, and b) moderated by physical proximity to greenspace, perceived accessibility, social cohesion and safety. 

Transitions and Activity Changes in Kids (TRACK)
Collaboration with Dr. Russell Pate 

This study examines the factors that influence change in physical activity in boys and girls as they transition from elementary to middle school. This study is unique in it’s application of state-of-the-art measures and multi-level modeling strategies in examining the mechanisms that underlie change in physical activity during the transition from childhood to adolescence. The study's findings will markedly expand the body of knowledge regarding the influences on development of physical activity behavior in youth. The major objectives of the study are to 1) determine the influences of personal social-cognitive, family, neighborhood, school, and community factors on changes in physical activity in African American and white boys and girls as they transition from elementary to middle school. 2) To examine the effects of gender, race and neighborhood environment on factors influencing changes in physical activity as African American and white children transition from elementary to middle school.

Unlocking the Potential of Mobile Big Data for Behavioral Research
Collaboration with Dr. Mark Newman and Dr. Qiaozhu Mei

Data provided by mobile phones have the power to revolutionize our ability to understand and improve behavioral choices around, for example physical activity, travel behavior, social connections, etc. Capitalizing on this large quantity of data could be greatly enhanced by soliciting small amounts of user input in real-time around specific situations that are of interest. To do this, we need to develop reliable mechanisms to trigger context-specific real-time user input queries. We also need to develop algorithms that can maximize the trade-off of certainty of information versus user burden. In this project we will develop mechanisms to trigger user inquiries to enhance the interpretability of other data from the phone and use machine learning to identify ideal moments to request user input. The results of this study will help us and other researchers unlock the potential of behavioral "big data" from mobile phones.

A PATH ( Promoting Activity and Trajectories of Health) for Children
Collaboration with Dr. Leah Robinson

Physical inactivity in children is a major public health risk factor and national health objective. Ethnic-minorities and low income children engage in less physical activity and experience an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Thus, promoting health-enhancing and sustainable physical activity levels across childhood and adolescence contributes to their health later as adults. This study investigates the immediate and long-term effects of a motor skills - the Child Health and Motor Program (CHAMP) on motor competence, perceived motor competence, and physical activity in preschool-age children. The long-term goal of our work is to provide evidence-based intervention strategies to promote positive trajectories of health in children. Positive findings will support the development of early childhood motor competence and physical activity programs that promote positive and sustainable physical activity behaviors that contribute to healthy growth and development.

Collaboration with Dr. Deanna Gates
Determining the Potential Benefit of Powered Prostheses

The purpose of this study is to determine if the addition of prosthetic ankle power increases activity levels and community reintegration during normal daily life. Many previous studies have used accelerometry to quantify participant walking tendencies, and some have utilized GPS devices to measure participant activity in daily life. This study combines the two to provide a quantitative representation of ambulation tendencies with corresponding contextual information such as participant location during non-sedentary bouts. These endeavors will develop a better understanding of how best to address the nuanced needs of the widely diverse amputee population

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