Research - Our Team

Jill Litt is an Associate Professor of Environmental Health in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder and an Associated Researcher at the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal).

She received her PhD in environmental health and public policy from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has experience in the area of urban environmental health working over the past decade in the neighborhoods of Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston, and Denver and more recently, Barcelona, Spain and Marseille and Montpellier, France on a variety of issues related to the built and natural environments and health including urban brownfields cleanup and redevelopment, lead poisoning, residential demolition, environmental justice, chemical risk assessment, housing, green spaces, community gardens, and local food systems.

As an interdisciplinary researcher, Jill Litt utilizes the methods of community-based participatory research, epidemiology, risk assessment, and ethnography to study the relationships between residential environments and health and specifically the ways in which neighbourhoods influence health behaviours and how social and psychological processes (e.g., neighbourhood attachment, environmental aesthetics, collective efficacy) affect these relationships. Jill Litt has designed, conducted and numerous studies of the built residential environments and their impacts on health behaviours and health status as well as a national study of inter-organizational network effectiveness of active living collaboratives.

In 2018, she received funding from the European Union, through its Horizons 2020 initiative, to conduct a 4-country analysis of social, emotional and environmental factors that influence people’s aesthetic ratings of place. This project is entitled Researching Environments that Magnify Health Everyday (REMEDHY). Additionally, she received a Research Scholar Award from the Health Equity program of the American Cancer Society to conduct a randomized controlled clinical trial of community gardening and its impact on health behaviours and mental health as risk factors for cancer among low income and minority families in Denver, Colorado (2017-2020).

In 2014-2015, Jill Litt served as PI on an evaluation of Kaiser Permanente’s Walk and Wheel Initiative, which involved 20 municipality and worksite initiatives aimed at policy and environmental changes to advance active living. Additionally, she was PI of the Colorado Physical Activity Policy Research Network (2009-2015), which was part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) thematic network on physical activity policy research. This latter grant supported her study entitled Coalitions and Networks for Active Living (CANAL), which aimed to understand the factors that influence network effectiveness. Past research also includes a K01 award (2004-2009), funded by the CDC, to understand the health and social impacts of community gardening and more broadly to understand neighbourhood physical and social factors that influence health behaviours and health status.

Additionally, Jill Litt was PI of Hogares Sanos, Niños Sanos (2004-2008), a technical study funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, designed to examine home-based environmental hazards among monolingual Spanish speaking families in Denver, Colorado.

When she is not working, she likes to hike, play squash, garden, cook, read, attend her kids’ soccer matches, travel, and listen to live music.

Lines of Research

  • Health behaviour change
  • Built and natural environments and health behavior change
  • Community and urban gardens (huertos urbanos)
  • Food systems planning and policy
  • Health policy
  • Community-engaged scholarship
  • Urban planning
  • Environmental health

Main Publications

  • Litt, JS, Alaimo, K, Buchenau, M, Villalobos, A, Glueck, DH, Crume, T, Fahnestock, L, Hamman, RF, Hebert, JR, Hurley, TG, Leiferman, J, Li, K, Rationale and Design for the Community Activation for Prevention Study (CAPs): A Randomized Controlled Trial of Community Gardening. Contemporary Clinical Trials. Vol 68: pp. 72-78, 2018
  • McAndrews, C, Okuyama, K, Litt, J. The Reach of Bicycling in Rural, Small, and Low-density Places, Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2017.
  • Litt, JS, Schmiege, S, Hale, J, Buchenau, M, Sancar, F, Exploring ecological, emotional and social levers of health promotion through the community garden experience: A path analysis. Social Science and Medicine, Vol 144 (November 2015) 1-8 doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.09.004.
  • Litt, JS, Varda, D., Reed, H., Retrum, J., Tabak, R., Gustat, J., O’Hara-Tomkins, N., How to identify success among networks that promote active living. American Journal of Public Health (2015), Vol. 105, No. 11, pp. 2298-2305.
  • Litt, JS, Goss, C, Diao, L, Hendrikson, E, Miller, SL, Allshouse, A, Diaz-Castillo, S, Bardwell, RA, and DiGuiseppi, C, Housing Environment and Health Conditions among Urban Mexican Immigrant: A Population-Based Study. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. Vol. 12, No. 5 (2010), pp. 617-625