2023 Spotlight

Visiting Scholar Spotlight: Ana Luiza Favarão Leão

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Ana Luiza Favarão Leão hasn’t been in St. Louis long, but she’ll well remember the city when she returns to Brazil later in the year, thanks to the PRC. A research student at the PRC under a Fulbright Doctoral Dissertation Research Award, she’s in the U.S. for the first time.

“It’s been a great cultural experience,” said Favarão Leão, whose hometown is less than a century old.  “St. Louis is so rich in history, and that really intrigues me,” she said. “I was surprised at how kind people are. St. Louis has been very good to me.”  Although she’d never been to the U.S., she was well aware of the PRC, and so appreciated the opportunity to meet leaders like Ross Brownson and Amy Eyler, who’d she been studying at a distance as part of her interest in urban design and health.  “Its been a great experience for me, very enriching, coming into contact with researchers I’d admired from afar for a long time.”

Her research focuses on environmental factors that affect walkability, and health disparities. She’s working in the People, Health & Place Unit, where she’s contributing to the unit’s multidisciplinary research in urban planning and public health to support planning in low and middle-income countries.

Leão lives near Forest Park, and enjoys walking and biking there. “It’s really a gem, a wonderful park,” she said, adding that she also enjoys Tower Grove Park and the Loop. Baking and cross-stitching are among her other hobbies.

Her dissertation is focused on the context of low-income countries and how to quantify walkability to give urban managers solid, reliable information about how people move.

“I’m trying to unify walkability measurement (including urban characteristics like density that make it easier to walk) to fill the gap in low-income countries, and how smaller elements, like sidewalks, streetlights, trashcans influence how people walk,” she said.

“We still have a lot of problems ahead, but we’re heading the right way.”