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Rebecca Lee

Rebecca Lee

Professor, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation


Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation
Arizona State University, Downtown Phoenix campus
500 N 3rd St
Phoenix, AZ 85004


  • Senior Global Futures Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory
  • Professor, Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation
  • Adjunct Full Professor, Department of Health and Human Performance, University of Houston


Rebecca E. Lee is a professor in the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation and previously served as founding director of the Texas Obesity Research Center in the Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Houston. She still holds a courtesy appointment in the University of Houston Department of Health and Human Performance. Lee oversees the Understanding Neighborhood Determinants of Obesity (UNDO) research team, where she aims to provide innovative, theoretically-derived, trans-cultural, and community-based approaches to improving health to the science and community alike. Lee, a community health psychologist, specializes in research with populations of color using innovative strategies, incorporating social cohesion, ameliorating social injustices, capitalizing on innovations in technology and improving the quality of neighborhood environments. She has been consistently funded by the NIH for over a decade and is principal or co- investigator for several federally and privately funded research grants focusing on social, environmental, community and virtual interventions to increase physical activity and improve dietary habits. Rebecca Lee’s work is driven by her desire to reduce health disparities. She authored, Reversing the Obesogenic Environment (Human Kinetics, 2011), the authoritative text in the field. She has been a leader in the development of ecologic theory, techniques and applications of physical and social environmental factors that contribute to physical activity, dietary habits and obesity. Lee is the former chair of the Houston Mayor’s Wellness Council Public Policy Committee, where she worked with the Council to improve the health of Houstonians. She is an editorial board member of the American Journal of Health Promotion. She has authored and co-authored over 90 articles in peer-reviewed publications, and has served as a charter member on the Community Level Health Promotion Study Section for the Center for Scientific Review at the National Institutes of Health. She has received many honors and awards, including the University of Houston College of Education Research Excellence Award in 2005 and 2008, the Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Texas Council on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Stroke, the 2013 Distinguished Faculty Scholar award from the University of Houston Council on Women, and she is a Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Lee was selected as a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Scholar to Mexico in 2011-2012 where she partnered with the University of Guadalajara to help build capacity around issues related to obesity in Mexico.


  • Postgraduate Course, Research Directions and Strategies in Physical Activity and Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, University of South Carolina, 2002
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Stanford University, 2001
  • PhD, Human Services Psychology, University of Maryland-Baltimore County, 1998
  • MA, Psychology, San Diego State University, 1994
  • BA (with distinction), Psychology, San Diego State University, 1992


Journal Articles


Almeida, F. A., R. L. Smith-Ray, D. A. Dzewaltowski, R. E. Glasgow, R. E. Lee, D. S. Thomas, S. Xu and P. A. Estabrooks. 2015. An interactive computer session to initiate physical activity in sedentary cardiac patients: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research 17(8):e206. DOI: 10.2196/jmir.3759. (link )

Gharib, H., K. I. Galaviz, R. E. Lee, M. Safdie, L. Tolentino, S. Barquera and L. Levesque. 2015. The influence of physical education lesson context and teacher behaviour on student physical activity in Mexico. Retos: Nuevas tendencias en Educacion Fisica, Deporte y Recreacion 28:160-164.

Juaregui, E., A. H. Pacheco, E. G. Soltero, T. M. O'Connor, C. M. Castro, P. A. Estabrooks, L. H. McNeill and R. E. Lee. 2015. Using the RE-AIM framework to evaluate physical activity public health programs in Mexico. BMC Public Health 15:Art. 15. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-015-1474-2. (link )

Lee, R. E., A. M. Hallett, N. H. Parker, D. Kao, M. J. Modelska, H. Rafai and D. P. O'Connor. 2015. Physical activity policies in Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (CORD) communities. Health Behavior and Policy Review 4(July):284-295(12). DOI: 10.14485/HBPR.2.4.5. (link )

Lee, R. E., A. M. Hallett, N. Parker, O. Kudia, D. Kao, M. Modelska, H. Rifai and D. P. O'Connor. 2015. Development of the policy indicator checklist: A tool to identify and measure policies for calorie-dense foods and sugar-sweetened beverages across multiple settings. American Journal of Public Health 105(5):1036-1043. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302559. (link )

Lee, R. E., S. K. Mama, H. J. Adamus-Leach and E. G. Soltero. 2015. Contribution of neighborhood income and access to quality physical activity resources to physical activity in minority women over time. American Journal of Health Promotion 29(4):210-216. DOI: 10.4278/ajhp.130403-QUAN-148. (link )

Mama, S. K., P. M. Diamond, S. A. McCurdy, A. E. Evans, L. H. McNeill and R. E. Lee. 2015. Individual, social and environmental correlates of physical activity in overweight and obese African American and Hispanic women: A structural equation model analysis. Preventative Medicine Reports 2:57-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2015.01.001. (link )

Mama, S. K., S. A. McCurdy, A. E. Evans, D. I. Thompson, P. M. Diamond and R. E. Lee. 2015. Using community insight to understand physical activity adoption in overweight and obese African American and Hispanic women: A qualitative study. Health Education & Behavior 42(3):321-328. DOI: 10.1177/1090198114557128 . (link )

Mama, S. K., L. H. McNeill, S. A. McCurdy, A. E. Evans, P. M. Diamond, H. J. Adamus-Leach and R. E. Lee. 2015. Psychosocial factors and theory in physical activity studies in minorities. American Journal of Health Behavior 39(1):68-76(9). DOI: 10.5993/AJHB.39.1.8. (link )

O'Connor, D. P., H. A. Leach, S. K. Mama and R. E. Lee. 2015. Factorial invariance of the physical activity neighborhood environment survey among single vs. multi-family housing residents. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport DOI: 10.1080/02701367.2015.1008965. (link )

O'Connor, D. P., R. E. Lee, P. Mehta, D. Thompson, A. Bhargava, C. Carlson, D. Kao, C. S. Layne, T. Ledoux, T. O'Connor, H. Rafai, L. Gulley, A. M. Hallett, O. Kudia, S. Joseph, M. Modelska, D. Ortega, N. Parker, A. Stevens and . EC-CORD (BETTER Policies) Team. 2015. Childhood obesity research demonstration project: Cross-site evaluation methods. Childhood Obesity 11(1):92-103. DOI: 10.1089/chi.2014.0061. (link )

Soltero, E. G., D. C. Hernandez, D. P. O'Connor and R. E. Lee. 2015. Does social support mediate the relationship among neighborhood disadvantage, incivilities, crime and physical activity?. Preventative Medicine 72:44-49. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.12.030. (link )

Soltero, E. G., T. Ledoux and R. E. Lee. 2015. Feasibility and acceptability of adapting the eating in the absence of hunger assessment for preschoolers in the classroom setting. Eating Behaviors 19(December):68-71. DOI: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.06.006. (link )

Soltero, E. G., S. K. Mama, A. H. Pacheco and R. E. Lee. 2015. Physical activity resource and user characteristics in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Recursos para la actividad física y características de los usuarios en Puerto Vallarta, México). Retos: Nuevas Tendencias en Educacio Fisica, Deporte y Recreacion 28:203-206.


Galaviz, K. I., S. M. Harden, E. Smith, K. C. Blackman, L. M. Berrey, S. K. Mama, F. A. Almeida, R. E. Lee and P. A. Estabrooks. 2014. Physical activity promotion in Latin American populations: A systematic review on issues of internal and external validity. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 11:77. DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-11-77. (link )

Harden, S. M., P. A. Estabrooks, S. K. Mama and R. E. Lee. 2014. Longitudinal analysis of minority women's perceptions of cohesion: The role of cooperation, communication, and competition. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 11:57. DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-11-57. (link )

Leach, H. J., S. K. Mama, E. G. Soltero and R. E. Lee. 2014. The influence of sitting time and physical activity on health outcomes in public housing residents. Ethnicty & Disease 24(3):370-375. (link )

Ledoux, T., H. Adamus-Leach, D. P. O'Connor, S. K. Mama and R. E. Lee. 2014. The association of binge eating and neighborhood fast-food restaurant availability on diet and weight status. Public Health Nutrition 18(2):352-360. DOI: 10.1017/S1368980013003546. (link )

Lee, R. E., K. M. Heinrich, J. Y. Reese-Smith, G. R. Regan and H. J. Adamus-Leach. 2014. Obesogenic and youth oriented restaurant marketing in public housing neighborhoods. American Journal of Health Behavior 38(2):218-224(7). DOI: 10.5993/AJHB.38.2.7. (link )

Lee, R. E., E. G. Soltero, S. K. Mama, F. Saavedra, T. A. Ledoux and L. McNeill. 2014. Developing a transcultural academic community partnership to arrest obesity. International Quaterly of Community Health Education 34(3):215-233. DOI: 10.2190/IQ.34.3.b. (link )

Mama, S. K., E. G. Soltero, T. A. Ledoux, M. R. Gallagher and R. E. Lee. 2014. Solving the obesity epidemic: Voices from the community. Nursing Inquiry 21(3):192-201. DOI: 10.1111/nin.12054. (link )

O'Connor, T., E. Cerin, S. O. Hughes, J. Robles, D. I. Thompson, J. A. Mendoza, T. Baranowski and R. E. Lee. 2014. Psychometrics of the preschooler physical activity parenting practices instrument among a Latino sample. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 11:3. DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-11-3. (link )

O'Connor, T. M., E. Cerin, R. E. Lee, N. Parker, T. Chen, S. O. Hughes, J. A. Mendoza and T. Baranowski. 2014. Environmental and cultural correlates of physical activity parenting practices among Latino parents with preschool-aged children: Niños Activos. BMC Public Health 14:707. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-707. (link )


Adamus-Leach, H. J., P. L. Wilson, D. P. O'Connor, P. C. Rhode, S. K. Mama and R. E. Lee. 2013. Depression, stress and body fat are associated with binge eating in a community sample of African American and Hispanic women. Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulmia and Obesity 18(2):221-227. DOI: 10.1007/s40519-013-0021-3. (link )

O'Connor, T., E. Cerin, S. O. Hughes, J. Robles, D. Thompson, T. Baranowski, R. E. Lee, T. Nicklas and R. M. Shewchuk. 2013. What Hispanic parents do to encourage and discourage 3-5 year old children to be active: a qualitative study using nominal group technique. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 10:93. DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-10-93. (link )

O'Connor, T., E. Cerin, J. Robles, R. E. Lee, J. Kerr, N. Butte, J. A. Mendoza, D. Thompson and T. Baranowski. 2013. Feasibility study to objectively assess activity and location of Hispanic preschoolers: A short communication. Geospatial Health: Health Applications in Geospatial Science 7(2):375-380. DOI: 10.4081/gh.2013.94. (link )


Adamus-Leach, H. J., S. K. Mama, D. P. O'Connor and R. E. Lee. 2012. Income differences in perceived neighborhood environment characteristics among African American women. Environmental Health Insights 6:33-40. DOI: 10.4137/EHI.S10655. (link )

Book Chapters


Lee, R. E., H. J. Adamus-Leach, E. G. Soltero, K. R. Vollrath, A. M. Hallett, N. Parker, M. B. Cross, S. K. Mama and T. Ledoux. 2015. Obesity: An ecologic perspective on challenges and solutions. Pp. 363-386 In: Stein, N. ed., Public Health Nutrition: Principles and Practice in Community and Global Health. Jones & Bartlett Learning. Burlington, MA. ISBN: 978-1449692049.


Layne, C. S., L. Alastuey, A. M. Cheletta, A. Ogborn, T. A. Ledoux, P. Mutgekar, R. E. Lee and B. K. McFarlin. 2014. Virtual, immersive, translational, applied learning: The VITAL Project. Pp. 101-115 In: Vicenti, G., A. Bucciero and C. Vas de Carvalho eds., E-Learning, E-Education, and Online Training. Vol 138. Springer International Publishing. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-13293-8_13. ISBN: 978-3-319-13292-1. (link )