Scientists & Staff

Michelle Kondo

Michelle Kondo

Research Social Scientist
100 N. 20th Street, Suite 205
Philadelphia, PA, 19103
Phone: 215-988-1619

Contact Michelle Kondo

Current Research

Michelle Kondo, Ph.D., is a scientist with the USDA-Forest Service, Philadelphia Field Station. She completed doctoral training in Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington, and postdoctoral training in environmental health and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kondo's general research interests include:

  • Environmental strategies for violence, injury and disease prevention
  • Environmental health and environmental justice
  • Geospatial and community-based research methods

Her research addresses the following broad questions: What are the health consequences of environmental disparities? By which physiological and psychosocial mechanisms do environments affect health? And, what impact can place-based and nature-based initiatives have on preventing and reducing violence, injuries, and disease? She is also interested in evaluating the influence of community participation in place-based initiatives on health outcomes. Some of her major projects include:

Changes in public health and safety associated with greening of vacant land and other greening and blight-reduction initiatives

Post-industrial cities throughout the Eastern US are developing innovative programs to reuse vacant lots. Cities are increasingly combining goals of vacant land stabilization with sustainability and public health and safety initiatives; vacant lots present opportunities to promote economic development, improve health and safety, and provide ecosystem services such as stormwater management. Dr. Kondo's research employs quasi-experimental and experimental methods in evaluating impacts of vacant lot reuse and other greening programs such as green stormwater infrastructure on health and safety.

Viability of Prescriptions for Nature Programs

Partnerships between doctors, hospitals, non-profit groups and land managers are developing across the US to initiate "Parks Rx" or "Nature Rx" programs which incorporate support for families in spending more time outdoors in to the medical system. This project evaluates effectiveness of Nature Rx programs in implementation and in increasing patient use of outdoor spaces.

Past Research

Dr. Kondo's past research has investigated patterns of air pollution in goods-movement communities; air pollution-related stress and risk perception; and methods of community engagement in research and planning.


Why This Research is Important

Media Interviews and Spotlights


  • University of Washington, Ph.D. Urban Design and Planning, 2008
  • University of Washington, M.U.P. Urban Design and Planning, 2001
  • Carnegie Mellon University, B.S. Civil & Environmental Engineering, 1999

Professional Experience

  • Visiting Scholar, Barcelona Institute of Global Health 2018 - Current
  • Adjunct Lecturer, Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University 2017 - Current
  • Adjunct Scholar, Center for Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania 2014 - Current
  • Associate Fellow, University of Pennsylvania, Center for Public Health Initiatives 2010 - Current
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Biostatistics & Epidemiology 2013 - 2014
  • GPS/GIS Instructor, University of Pennsylvania, Guatemala Health Initiative 2012 - 2013
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice 2010 - 2013
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Seattle University, Institute of Public Service 2009 - 2010
  • Fellow, University of Washington, NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) in Urban Ecology 2003 - 2005
  • Environmental Consultant, Environmental Science Associates, Water and Wastewater Division, San Francisco, CA. 2001 - 2003

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Green stormwater infrastructure in Center City, Philadelphia. Rebecca Schwartz, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Elemental Concentrations in Urban Green Stormwater Infrastructure Soils

Year: 2016

A study by a Forest Service scientist and her partners found that in an urban area, soils in green stormwater infrastructure facilities appear to accumulate calcium (Ca) and iodine (I), but are either no different, or lower in cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb) compared to soils at background locations; however, mean values of these metals found across green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) sites were up to four times greater than targeted objectives for soil cleanup for residential use.

Overview map of treatment and control lots in Youngstown, OH. Michelle Kondo, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Community Greening Can Reduce Crime

Year: 2016

In Youngstown, Ohio, vacant lots greened by community members experienced reductions in violent assaults, while vacant lots greened by contractors experienced reductions in property crimes.

Cleaning-and-greening at Wister Street lot.  Robert Grossmann, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Seeing a Greened Vacant Lot May Lower Stress

Year: 2015

Studies by Forest Service scientists showed that walking adjacent to greened vacant lots decreased participants' heart rate significantly more than did walking adjacent to a non-greened vacant lot or not in view of any vacant lot. Remediating neighborhood blight may reduce stress and improve health.?

Stormwater tree trench and pervious pavers. USDA Forest Service

Green Stormwater Infrastructure Reduces Crime

Year: 2015

Forest Service scientists tested the effects of green stormwater infrastructure installation on health and safety outcomes across Philadelphia and found that for green stormwater infrastructure sites constructed between 2000 and 2011, there was a significant decrease in the occurrence of narcotics possession at nearby locations, compared to at control locations.

Doors and windows remediation before and after. USDA Forest Service

Low-cost Urban Building Improvement Can Reduce Crime

Year: 2015

In a study by a Forest Service scientist and her partners, Philadelphia’s “Doors-and-Windows Ordinance,” which requires repairs to abandoned buildings by their owners, was found to be significantly associated with citywide reductions in overall crimes, total assaults, gun assaults, and nuisance crimes.

Emissions from a waterside facility, contributing to air pollution. USDA Forest Service

Air Pollution as a Psychosocial Stressor

Year: 2014

A Forest Service scientist and her research partners found that air pollution contributes to physical and psychosocial conditions that act as community-level social stressors.

Last modified: Friday, March 16, 2018