Contact Information

Preventive Medicine and Biometrics: Faculty


Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics
4301 Jones Bridge Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799
AFRRI Bldg., Rm. 3176A
Phone: (301) 319-6988
Email: jennifer.roberts@usuhs.edu

Research Gate

Jennifer D. Roberts, Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics

Jennifer D. Roberts, DrPH, MPH

Assistant Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences

Profile

Dr. Roberts received her training in environmental health sciences and she has extensive experience working in the fields of public health, environmental epidemiology, and human health risk assessment. Her current focus is to develop her research portfolio, which occupies two overlapping themes. The first theme encompasses the areas of risk assessment and environmental epidemiology (e.g. examining the human health risks of low frequency sound exposure generated by wind turbines). And closely related to the first theme, the second theme pertains to man-made environmental impacts and influences on public health. Dr. Roberts has a considerable interest in examining the relationship and impact of neighborhood and community design on intermediary (e.g., physical inactivity) and outmost (e.g., obesity) health outcomes in both children and adults.

Degrees

  • DrPH, Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • MPH, Environmental and Occupational Health, Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health
  • AB, Health and Society, Brown University

Teaching

  • Introduction to Health Risk Communication
  • Environmental Health Risk Assessment
  • Guest lecturer in Essentials of Toxicology
  • Guest lecturer in Introduction to Environmental Health
  • Guest lecturer in Advanced Environmental Health

Research

The Built Environment and Children's Health – The DMV Playability Study

Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled. Approximately one in five children in the U.S is obese and over 31% are either overweight or obese. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) physical activity health guideline for children is 60 minutes or more each day, more than 80% of youth do not engage in enough aerobic physical activity to meet these guidelines. There have been social and environmental factors that have been found to be positively associated with physical activity among children between the ages of 4-12 years, such as gender (e.g. boys), age, parental support, belief in ability to be active, presence of sidewalks, low traffic density, and access to neighborhood or school play area and/or recreational equipment. However, these factors, as well as other built environment (e.g., crime, neighborhood aesthetics, home yards) and sociological (e.g., perception of neighborhood) factors, have not been examined collectively to determine their impact on not only physical activity, but also "active play".

This study will evaluate neighborhood "playability" or the level of outdoor active play among children between the ages of 7-12 years in the DMV (Washington DC; Maryland; Virginia) area by modeling "playability" scores using built environment features (e.g. neighborhood crime; parks and playgrounds; sidewalks) and controlling for sociological factors (e.g. parental neighborhood perception; parental attitudes of physical activity).

Physical Inactivity, Ambient Air Pollution & Obesity Study

Physical inactivity, ambient air pollution and obesity are modifiable risk factors for non-communicable diseases, with the former accounting for ten percent of premature deaths worldwide. Although community level interventions may target each simultaneously, research on the relationship between these risk factors is lacking. Thus, an important research question is whether obese and overweight adults who are exposed to higher levels of ambient air pollution exhibit lower levels of physical activity and whether the relationship between air pollution and physical inactivity exacerbate the underlying health disparities.

This cross-sectional study examined the association of ambient air pollution with physical inactivity among obese and overweight adults while also comparing spatial interpolation methods to determine the best predictor for ambient air pollution exposures throughout the U.S.

Areas of Expertise

  • Environmental Health Science
  • Environmental Epidemiology
  • Human Health Risk Assessment
  • Built environment influences on public health

Selected Recent Publications

Roberts JD, Voss JD, Knight B. Physical inactivity, ambient air pollution and obesity in the United States. PLOS ONE. 2014. 9(3).

Roberts JD, Roberts MA. Wind turbines: Is there a human health risk?. J of Environmental Health. 2013. 75(8).

Dorevitch S, Doi M, Hsu F-C, Lin K-T, Roberts JD, Liu LC, Gladding R, Vannoy R, Li H, Scheff PA. A comparison of rapid and conventional measures of indicator bacteria as predictors of waterborne protozoan pathogen presence and density. J of Environmental Monitoring. 2011. 13(9):2427-2435.

Roberts M and Roberts J. (2009, October 20). Evaluation of the scientific literature on the health effects associated with wind turbines and low frequency sound (White Paper Prepared for Wisconsin Public Service Commission Docket No. 6630-CE-302). Retrieved from http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/documents/Wind-Turbine-Wisconsin-Assessment.pdf.

Roberts JD. Have "green" U.S. automobile drivers made an impact on greenhouse gases? Natural Resources and Environment. 2009; 24(2).

Donovan E, Unice K; Roberts JD, Harris M, Finley B. Risk of gastrointestinal disease associated with exposure to pathogens in the water of the Lower Passaic River. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008; 74(4):994-1003.

Donovan E, Staskal D, Unice K, Roberts JD, Haws L, Finley B, Harris M. Risk of gastrointestinal disease associated with exposure to pathogens in the sediments of the Lower Passaic River. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008; 74(4):1004-1018.

Gaffney SH, Roberts JD. (2008). Occupational Risks. In: Encyclopedia of Quantitative Risk Analysis and Assessment. Section Eds. Jennifer Roberts and Dennis Paustenbach. (Wiley Publishers), West Sussex, England, Volume 3.

Roberts JD, Silbergeld EK, Graczyk TK. A probabilistic risk assessment of Cryptosporidium exposure among Baltimore urban anglers. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2007; 70(18):1568-1576.

Graczyk TK, McOliver C, Silbergeld EK, Tamang L, Roberts JD. Risk of handling as a route of exposure to infectious waterborne Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts via Atlantic blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus). Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007; 73(12):4069-4070.

Professional Activities

Appointments

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences - University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Public Health, 2008-present
  • Member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC), December 1, 2009 - December 1, 2011
  • Appointed to serve on the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on Wind Turbine Noise and Human Health, 2013-present (http://www.scienceadvice.ca/en/assessments/in-progress/wind-turbines/expert-panel/roberts.aspx)

Affiliations

  • International Society of Exposure Science Society of Risk Analysis
  • International Society of Environmental Epidemiology

Awards and Accomplishments

  • Recipient of "The Daily Record's" Very Important Professionals Successful By 40 Award, 2012
  • U.S. Environmental Protections Agency Appreciation Award, Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC), 2011
  • Outstanding Young Professionals Recipient, Minority Environmental Leadership Development Initiative (MELDI), University of Michigan, 2005
  • Finalist, Student Research Award, Environment Section, American Public Health Association, 2004
  • Honorable Mention Award for Student Research, The New York Academy of Medicine, 2003