Faculty Spotlight: Maura Kepper

Maura Kepper’s research focuses in part on the connections between urban planning and public health, especially when it comes to parental decisions about letting their kids go out to play. What she learned in years of research gained new meaning about two years ago, when her first child was born.

“It definitely brought a new perspective,” said Kepper, who came to the PRC a year ago as a post-doctoral researcher and was recently promoted to Research Assistant Professor. “My daughter brings context to some of the questions I’ve been asking parents.”

Kepper traces her interest in health to her father, a physician. Her husband is a resident at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “I’ve always been interested in health,” she said. Her most recent grant will support research in how to address social determinants of health in a clinical setting.

She received her undergraduate degree in urban planning, which she sees as critically related to health. “It’s been interesting to connect that to public health to understand how neighborhoods can change to improve health and reduce disparities,” she said. Kepper studies the physical environment of neighborhoods, like street design and access to parks, but also looks at the social environment, which involves things like trust among neighbors.

Her own neighborhood in University City puts her close to Forest Park, where she enjoys biking and walking her dog. Two of her other favorite pastimes might seem to be at odds (but perhaps not):

Pilates, and ice cream.

Learn more about Maura here.

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