Dorothy Ibes

Lecturer, Environmental Science and Policy Program and Center for Geospatial Analysis

Office: ISC 2135
Phone: (757) 221-4440

Areas of Specialization

Urban parks and public space, mental health and nature engagement (ecotherapy), urban human-environment dynamics.


Ph.D., Urban Geography, School of Geographical Science & Urban Planning, Arizona State University

M.S., Environmental Geography, Dept. of Geography, Texas State University

B.A., Journalism and Documentary Film, School of Journalism and Mass Comm., University of Minnesota—Twin Cities

Research and Teaching

Dr. Ibes’s research promotes the evolution of healthy, sustainable human settlements. To accomplish this, Dr. Ibes narrows in on a key element of healthy, sustainable, livable, and vibrant towns and cities: parks and greenspace. These are vital and treasured public lands where human and natural systems converge and interact, yet their role in the sustainable city has been undermined by inadequate research, planning, design, and management that fails to acknowledge the unique challenges and opportunities these areas present. Many park spaces are underutilized and mismanaged, though these public amenities are key to improving the mental, physical, and social health of city residents, as well as the sustainability of the urban ecosystem. Access to these spaces has proven powerful in the treatment and prevention of depression, stress, anxiety, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions. Even small greenspaces have been hailed for their ability to support and protect critical cultural and environmental ecosystem services in cities. Necessarily, this work is deeply interdisciplinary, integrating both quantitative and qualitative methods and theory from human-environment geography, public health, urban planning and design, sustainability science, environmental justice, urban ecology, and urban ecothearpy.

Dr. Ibes directs the Parks Research Lab (PRL) at William & Mary. PRL conducts interdisciplinary, use-inspired, community-focused parks and public space research. Founded in 2009, PRL focuses on three key operations: 1) reviewing research on the health benefits of spending time outdoors, 2) conducting research on the therapeutic benefits of nature to contribute to this growing knowledge base, and 3) applying theory to the development of local projects and programs aimed at encouraging people to spend more time outdoors. Student researchers and interns from William and Mary are the creative, driving force behind PRL operations, and over 20 students have contributed to date. Current projects include Campus Park Rx, Campus Greenspace Map, My Outdoor Campus campaign, RESET trails project, and a documentary film with Professor Stadelmann, "The Science and Experience of Ecotherapy." Dr. Ibes has advised over 20 undergraduate students in the Parks Lab from Public Health, Environmental Science & Policy, Psychology, Neuroscience, Government, Film and Media Studies, and other disciplines.

At The College, Dr. Ibes teaches Science Communication, The Science & Experience of Ecotherapy, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Parks & Public Health Research, Campus Park Rx, and other courses for Environmental Science & Policy.
Selected Publications

Ibes, Dorothy C. (2016) Integrating ecosystem services into urban planning and design. Cities and the Environment.Vol. 9: Iss. 1.

Ibes, Dorothy C. (2015) A multi-dimensional classification and equity analysis of an urban park system: A novel methodology and case study application. Landscape and Urban Planning. 137: 122-137. (selected as “Editor’s Choice” for Volume 137)

Ibes, Dorothy C. (2014) Sustainable urban park systems. Cities and the Environment (7)2: 1-30.

Kelli L. Larson, Dorothy C. Ibes, and Elizabeth A. Wentz. (2012) Water Resource Consumption at the Neighborhood-Level: Perceived Versus Actual Water Scarcity Risks in Phoenix, AZ. Book chapter in Geospatial Approaches to Urban Water Resources, in the Springer Series: Geotechnologies and the Environment: Planning and Socioeconomic Applications.

Ibes, Dorothy C. (2011) American environmentalism and the city: An ecosystem servicesperspective. Cities and the Environment 4(1): 1-22.

Turner, V. Kelly and Dorothy C. Ibes. (2011) The impact of homeowners associations on residential water demand in Phoenix, Arizona. Urban Geography 32(8): 1167-1188.

Larson, Kelli, Dorothy C. Ibes, and David White. (2011) Gendered perspectives on water scarcity risks: A tripartite approach. Environment and Behavior 43(3): 415-438.