PERL Director

Dorothy Ibes, is faculty in William & Mary's Environment & Sustainability program, the founder and director of the Parks & Ecotherapy Research Lab (PERL), and a certified ecotherapy guide.

Ibes founded the Parks and Ecotherapy Research Lab, in 2009, and has been running PERL at William & Mary since 2013. An urban human-environment geographer, Ibes's research, teaching, and ecotherapy work seeks to support and enhance understanding of mutually-beneficial human-nature relationships, with a focus on promoting mental health and environmental stewardship through nature engagement. Her use-inspired, interdisciplinary research integrates theory and practice from nature and health, ecopsychology, human-environment geography, environmental justice, and urban park planning and design.

Ibes's work has been published in respected interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journals including Landscape & Urban Planning, Ecopsychology, American College Health, Cities & the Environment, and Frontiers in Psychology. She has received funding for her work from the National Science Foundation (NSF), US Dept of Agriculture (USDA), Center for Energy & the Environment, the Taylor Reveley Interdisciplinary Faculty Fellowship, the W&M Committee on Sustainability, and more. Ibes teaches courses at the University including The Science & Experience of Ecotherapy, Science Communication (senior capstone), and Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Mapping for Community Nature Rx.


2013 Ph.D. Urban Human-Environment Geography, Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning, Arizona State University

2008 M.S. Environmental Geography, Department of Geography, Texas State University

2003 B.A. Journalism with concentration in documentary film, School of Journalism & Mass Comm, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities


  • Urban ecotherapy, nature therapy

  • Promoting community and campus health and wellness via ecotherapy / nature engagement

  • Urban park planning and design to enhance ecosystem services

  • Methods: spatial analysis (ArcGIS); interview, observational, and survey methods; documentary film.

Selected Courses

ENSP 241: The Science & Experience of Ecotherapy

ENSP 440 / COLL 400: Science Communication (senior capstone)

ENSP 100/COLL 100: Mapping for Community Nature Rx

Selected Publications

Schuyler, Carolyn & Dorothy Ibes. (in progress) Ecotherapy for Everyone Field Guide.

Rakow, Don, Dorothy Ibes, & Chris Kim. (expected 2023) Best practices for engaging youth of color in greenspace and nature sites. Forthcoming book chapter “The Transformative Power of Parks,” by members of the NE-1962 Multistate Research Group.

Dorothy Ibes, Don Rakow, & Chris Kim. (2021) Barriers to nature engagement among youth of color. Children, Youth & the Environment. 31(3).

Ibes, Dorothy & C Forestell. 2020. The role of campus greenspace and meditation on college students’ mood. J of American College Health. DOI: 10.1080/07448481.2020.1726926

Ibes, Dorothy, Isabel Hirama, & Carolyn Schuyler (2018) Greenspace Ecotherapy Interventions: The Stress-Reduction Potential of Green Micro-Breaks Integrating Nature Connection and Mind-Body Skills. Ecopsychology 10 (3), 137-150.

Ibes, DC. JL Shawler, LR Hart-Moynihan, AL Schwartz, & LK Barbera. (2018). Senior-Friendly Parks? Actionable Steps for Enhancing Use, Satisfaction, and Access by Older Adults.Recreation, Parks, and Tourism in Public Health 2, 5-33

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.

Larson, Kelli L., Dorothy C. Ibes, &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 services perspective. Cities and the Environment 4(1): 1-22.

Turner, V. Kelly & 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 Ibes, & David White. (2011) Gendered perspectives on water scarcity risks: A tripartite approach. Environment and Behavior 43(3): 415-438.

Current Grant Projects

USDA Hatch multi-state grant, Engaging Youth of Color in Nature Connections: Barriers, Facilitators, and Best Practices. A part of the grant, ‘NE1962: Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Other Green Environments: Understanding Human and Community Benefits and Mechanisms.’ Co-PI with Dr. Don Rakow, Cornell University.