Nancy Wells
Prof Assoc

Web Bio Page

Current Activities

Current Professional Activities
Nancy Wells is a member of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), the International Association for the Study of People and their Surroundings (IAPS), and the Environmental Design and Aging technical groups of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. She has presented at the National Council on Science and the Environment, The Chicago Botanical Garden, the Detroit Audubon Society meeting, and is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences related to residential environments and health-related outcomes. Wells is also a member of the Conservation Fund's Children and Nature Forum advisory board.

Current Research Activities
Professor Wells is an environmental psychologist who studies people's relationship with the built and natural environment through the life course. In particular, Wells studies the impact of nearby nature on cognitive functioning, the influence of neighborhood design on physical activity, and the effects of housing quality on psychological well-being. Her work has included the study of children, adults, elders and families. Projects include an examination of the relationship between childhood exposure to nature and adulthood environmental attitudes; and a natural experiment examining how neighborhood design characteristics affect residents' physical activity.


Biographical Statement
Nancy Wells is an environmental psychologist who studies people's relationship to the built and natural environment through the life course.

Prior to joining the Cornell faculty, Dr. Wells received a joint PhD in Psychology and Architecture from the University of Michigan and completed a NIMH post-doctoral fellowship in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine. Nancy also received a Master's degree in Design and Environmental Analysis from Cornell University and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Connecticut College.

Administrative Responsibilities
Dr. Wells is the coordinator for the Gerontology Certificate Program; is a Faculty Fellow with Dickson residence hall; and serves as faculty advisor to the Cornell Elderly Partnership within the Cornell Public Service Center. Professor Wells is also the coordinator of L E A P - Living Environments Aging Partnership, and externally-funded program to promote elder-related service learning in Cornell classes, welcome older adults from the community into Cornell classes, and improve local environments for elders.

Courses, Websites, Pubs

Courses Taught
  • DEA 455/656 - Research Methods in Human-Environment Relations
  • DEA 472 - Environments for Elders
  • DEA 661 - Environments and Health

    Note: Professor Wells is on sabbatical Spring and Fall 2009.

  • Related Websites courses/dea455


    Selected Publications
    Wells, N.M., Evans, G.W. and Yang, Y. (In press). Environment and health: Planning decisions as public health decisions. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research.

    Wells, N.M. and Yang, Y. (2008). Neighborhood Design & Walking: A quasi-experimental longitudinal study of low-income Southern women moving to neotraditional or suburban neighborhoods. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 34(4), 313-319.

    Wells, N.M. and Harris, J.D. (2007). Housing quality, psychological distress, and the mediating role of social withdrawal: A longitudinal study of low-income women. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 27, 69-78.

    Brown, B.B. and Wells, N.M. (Eds.) (2007).  Environment, physical activity, and diet. Special Issue of Environment and Behavior, 39 (1).

    Wells, N.M., Ashdown, S.P., Davies, E.H.S., Cowett, F.D. and Yang, Y. (2007). Environment, Design and Obesity: Opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborative research. Environment and Behavior, 39 (1), 6 - 33.

    Wells, N.M. and Lekies, K.S. (2006). Nature and the Life Course: Pathways from childhood nature experiences to adult environmentalism. Children, Youth, and Environment, 16 (1), 1-24.

    Wells, N.M. (2005). Our housing, ourselves: A longitudinal investigation of low-income women's participatory housing experiences. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 25, 189-206

    Wells, N.M. & Evans, G.W. (2003) Nearby Nature: A buffer of life stress among rural children. Environment and Behavior, 35 (3), 311-330.

    Wells, N.M. (2000). At home with nature: effects of "greenness" on children's cognitive functioning. Environment and Behavior, 32 (6), 775-795.