Skip to content

College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences

Faculty and Staff Profile

Matthew Browning

Assistant Professor
Director, Virtual Reality and Nature Lab

Office: Barre 2029

Phone: 864-656-9981


Educational Background

PhD Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
Virginia Tech 2015

MESc Environmental Science
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies 2012

BA Biology
Oberlin College 2005

Courses Taught

PRTM 2110 - Impacts of Technology and Science in the Context of Play, Recreation and Tourism
PADM 8450 - Grant Writing for Public Administration
PRTM 8110 - Research Methods in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management


Dr. Browning's 14-year research career encompasses three domains (nature, health, virtual reality) and the intersections between them. He directs the Virtual Reality & Nature lab (VRN) at Clemson University, where he is an Assistant Professor in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management. The VRN researches the therapeutic effects of simulated environments on human health and looks for ways to evaluate and enhance the frequency, richness, and meaningfulness of human-nature interactions. Dr. Browning has published nearly 50 peer-reviewed articles and ranks among the top 15 most productive/cited scholars on nature and health based on PubMed metrics.

Research Interests

health and cognitive benefits of exposure to natural environments, virtual reality, environmental epidemiology, environmental psychology, children and nature

Research Publications

Rigolon, A., Browning, M., Lee, K., & Shin, S. (2018). Access to urban green space in cities of the Global South: A systematic literature review. Urban Science, 2(3), 67.

Browning, M., & Rigolon, A. (2018). Do income, race and ethnicity, and sprawl influence the greenspace-human health link in city-level analyses? Findings from 496 cities in the United States. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(7), 1541. (IF = 3.3)

Kuo, F., Penner, M., & Browning, M. (2018). Do lessons in nature boost subsequent classroom engagement? Refueling students in flight. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 6–15. (IF = 3.0)

Kuo, F., Browning, M., Sachdeva, S., Lee, K., & Westphal, L. (2018). Might school performance grow on trees? Examining the link between “greenness” and academic achievement in urban, high-poverty schools. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 109–14. (IF = 3.0)

Browning, M., Stern, M., Ardoin, N. M., & Heimlich, J. E. (2018). Factors that contribute to community members’ support of local nature centers. Environmental Education Research, 24(3), 326–342. (IF = 3.5)

Rigolon, A., Browning, M., & Jennings, V. L. (2018). Inequities in the quality of urban park systems: An environmental justice investigation of cities in the United States. Landscape and Urban Planning, 178, 156–169. (IF = 6.1)

Browning, M., Kuo, F., Sachdeva, S., Lee, K., & Westphal, L. (2018). Greenness and school-wide test scores are not always positively associated – A replication of “linking student performance in Massachusetts elementary schools with the ‘greenness’ of school surroundings using remote sensing.” Landscape and Urban Planning, 178, 69–72. (IF = 6.1)

Alvarez, H. A. O., Provencio-Vasquez, E., Slavich, G. M., Laurent, J. G. C., Browning, M., McKee-Lopez, G., et al. (2019). Stress and Health in Nursing Students: The Nurse Engagement and Wellness Study. Nursing Research, 68(6), 453–463. (IF = 2.4)

Browning, M., & Rigolon, A. (2019). School green space and its impact on academic performance: A systematic literature review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(3), 429–22. (IF = 3.3)

Becker, D. A., Browning, M., Kuo, F., & Van Den Eeden, S. K. (2019). Is green land cover associated with less health care spending? Promising findings from county-level Medicare spending in the continental United States. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 39–47. (IF = 4.5)

Browning, M., Lee, K., & Wolf, K. L. (2019). Tree cover shows an inverse relationship with depressive symptoms in elderly residents living in U.S. nursing homes. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 23–32. (IF = 4.5)

Browning, M., & Rigolon, A. (2019). Could nature help children rise out of poverty? Green space and future earnings from a cohort in ten U.S. cities. Environmental Research, 176, 1–13. (IF = 6.5)

van Riper, C. J., Browning, M., Becker, D. A., Stewart, W. P., Suski, C. D., Browning, L. M. M., & Golebie, E. (2019). Human-nature relationships and normative beliefs influence behaviors that reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species. Environmental Management, 63(1), 69–79. (IF = 6.8)
At Clemson

Browning, M., Joseph, A. J., Jiang, S., & Suppakittpaisarn, P. (2020). Human health assessments of green infrastructure design using virtual reality. Landscape Architecture.

Joseph, A., Browning, M., & Shan, J. (2020). Using immersive virtual environments (IVEs) to conduct environmental design research: A primer and decision framework. Health Environments Research & Design (HERD) Journal. (IF = 2.6)

Labib, S. M., Shuvo, F. K., Browning, M., & Rigolon, A. (2020). Noncommunicable diseases, park prescription, and urban green space use patterns in the Global South: Implications for health promotion. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. (IF = 3.3)

Nazif-Munoz, J. I., Laurent, J. G. C., Browning, M., Spengler, J., & Olvera, H. A. (2020). Green, Brown, and Gray: Associations between Different Measurements of Land Patterns and Depression among Nursing Students in El Paso, Texas. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. (IF = 3.3).

Browning, M., Mimnaugh, K. J., van Riper, C. J., Laurent, H. K., & LaValle, S. (2020). Can simulated nature support health? Comparing short, single-doses of 360-degree nature videos in virtual reality with the outdoors. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1-14, (IF = 3.0)

Browning, M., Shipley, N. J., Becker, D. A., Hartig, T., Yu, C.-P., McAnirlin, O., & Dzhambov, A. M. (2020). An actual natural setting improves mood better than its virtual counterpart: A meta-analysis of experimental data. Frontiers in Psychology. (IF = 3.0)

Riva, G., Bernardelli, L., Browning, M., Castelnuovo, G., Cavedoni, S., Chirico, A., et al. (2020). COVID Feel Good—An Easy Self-Help Virtual Reality Protocol to Overcome the Psychological Burden of Coronavirus. Frontiers in Psychiatry. (IF = 4.2)

Lee, H.-Y., Yu, C.-P., Lu, W.-H., Huang, Y.-C., & Browning, M. (2020). Restorative effects of immersive VR natural environments on middle-aged and elderly individuals. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. (IF = 4.5)

Browning, M., & Locke, D. H. (2020). The greenspace-academic performance link varies by remote sensing measure and urbanicity around Maryland Public Schools. Landscape and Urban Planning, 19, 103706, (IF = 6.1)

Browning, M., Saeidi-Rizi, F., McAnirlin, O., Yoon, H., & Pei, Y. (2020). The role of methodological choices in the effects of experimental exposure to simulated natural landscapes on human health and cognitive performance: A systematic review. Environment and Behavior, 1–86, (IF = 6.2)

Dzhambov, A., Browning, M., Markevych, I., & Lercher, P. (2020). Allergic symptoms in association with naturalness, greenness, and greyness: A cross-sectional study in schoolchildren in the Alps. Environmental Research. (IF = 6.5)

Dzhambov, A. M., Browning, M., Markevych, I., Hartig, T., & Lercher, P. (2020). Analytical approaches to testing pathways linking greenspace to health: A scoping review of the literature. Environmental Research. (IF = 6.5)

Dzhambov, A., Lercher, P., Browning, M., Stoyanov, D., Petrova, N., Novakov, S., & Dimitrova, D. (2020). Does greenery experienced indoors and outdoors provide an escape and support mental health during the COVID-19 quarantine? Environmental Research. (IF = 6.5)

Helbich, M. Browning, M., & Huss, A. (2020). Outdoor light at night correlates positively with depressive symptoms in the Netherlands. Science of the Total Environment. (IF = 8.9)

Helbich, M. Browning, M., & Kwan, M-P. (2020). Time to address the spatiotemporal uncertainties in COVID-19 research: Concerns and challenges Science of the Total Environment. (IF = 8.9)

Yeager, R. A., Riggs, D. W., DeJarnett, N., Srivastava, S., Lorkiewicz, P., Xie, Z., Keith, R., Srivastava, S., Browning, M., Zafar, N., Krishnasamy, S., DeFilippis, A., Turner, J., Rai, S. N., & Bhatnagar, A. (2020). Association between residential greenness and exposure to volatile organic compounds. Science of the Total Environment, 10(707), (IF = 8.9)

Hernandez, R., Burrows, B., Litbarg, N. O., Wilund, K., Browning, M., & Moskowitz, J. T. (2021). Virtual reality for mindfulness-based intervention in hemodialysis patients: A pilot study assessing end-user perceptions and safety. Kidney360.

Becker, D., & Browning, M. (2021). Total Area Greenness is Associated with Lower Per-Capita Medicare Spending, but Blue Spaces are Associated with Higher Spending. City and Environment Interactions.

Dong, G-H., Yang, B-Y., Zhao, T., Hu, L-X., Browning, M., Heinrich, J., Dharmage, S., Jalaludin, B., Knibbs, L., Liu, X-X., Lu, Y-N., James, P., Huang, W-Z., Chen, G., Zeng, X-Wn., & Hu, L-W. (In press). Greenspace and human health: An umbrella review. The Innovation. (IF = 1.3).

Browning, M., Larson, L. R., Rigolon, A., McAnirlin, O., Mullenbach, L. E., Cloutier, S., et al. (2021). Psychological impacts from COVID-19 among university students: Development of a risk classification scheme using data from five states in the United States. PLOS ONE. (IF = 2.7)

Alvarez, H. A. O., Browning, M., Neophytou, A. M., & Bratman, G. N. (2021). Associations of residential brownness and greenness with fasting glucose in a cross-sectional cohort of nursing students living in a desert environment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. (IF = 3.3)

Rigolon, A., Browning, M., McAnirlin, O., & Yoon, H. (2021). Green Space and Health Equity: A Systematic Review on the Potential of Green Space to Reduce Health Disparities. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. (IF = 3.3).

DeVille, N., Holland, I., Browning, M., Buehler, R., Hart, J., Hipp, J. A., Mitchell, R., Rakow, D., Schiff, J. E., White, M. P., Yin, J., & James, P. (2021). Measuring nature contact: A narrative review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. (IF = 3.3).

Kuo, F., Klein, S. E., Browning, M., & Zaplatosch, J. (2021). Greening for academic achievement: Increasing our understanding of what to plant and where. Landscape and Urban Planning. (IF = 6.1)

Browning, M., Rigolon, A., McAnirlin, O., & Yoon, H. (In press). Where green space matters most: A systematic review of urbanicity, green space, and physical health. Landscape and Urban Planning. (IF = 6.1).

Dzhambov, A. M., Markevych, I., Browning, M., Rüdisser, J., Lercher, P. (In press). Natural and built environments and blood pressure of alpine schoolchildren. Environmental Research. (IF = 6.5).

Dong, G-H., Luo, Y-N., Yang, B-Y., Zou, Z., Markevych, I., Browning, M., Heinrich, J., Bao, W-W., Guo, Y., Hu, L-W., Chen, G., Ma, J., Ma, Y., Chen, Y-J. (In press). Associations of greenness surrounding schools with blood pressure and hypertension: A nationwide cross-sectional study of 61,229 children and adolescents in China. Environmental Research. (IF = 6.5)

Nukarinen, T., Rantala, J., Korpela, K., Browning, M., Istance, H., Surakka, V., & Raisamo, R. (In press). Measures and Modalities in Restorative Virtual Natural Environments: An Integrative Review. Computers in Human Behavior. (IF = 6.8).

Honors and Awards

Featured Article, BioOne Journals (2008).
Keynote Speaker, North Carolina Children and Nature Network Coalition Conference (2010).
Graduate Research Fellowship Honorable Mention, National Science Foundation (2011).
Best Presenter, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (2012).
Park Break Fellow, National Park Service (2012).
Malmberg Fellow, American Swedish Institute (2012).
Plenary Speaker, American Swedish Institute Midsommer Fest (2013).
Citizen Science Engagement Award, Virginia Tech (2014).
Keynote Co-Speaker, Association of Nature Center Administrators Annual Conference (2015).
Invited Speaker, East Tennessee State University Department of Environmental Health (2016).
Teacher Ranked as Excellent by their Students, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2017).
Plenary Speaker, Arbor Day Foundation Partners in Community Forestry Conference (2017).
Invited Speaker, University of Louisville Diabetes and Obesity Center (2018).
Teacher Ranked as Excellent by their Students, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2019).
Plenary Speaker, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Annual Faculty Teaching Retreat (2019).
Plenary Speaker, Beijing Forestry University Green Infrastructure and Public Health Seminar (2019).
Invited Speaker, Planetary Health and Human Wellbeing: Interdisciplinary Landscape Research and Design seminar series (2021). Division of Landscape Architecture, Department of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong
Featured Article, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2019).
Outstanding Reviewer Award, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2019).
Scholarship in Journal Publication Award, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, Clemson University (2020).
Ranked 14th Globally on in Nature and Health research based on recent PubMed articles and citations (2021).


Virtual Reality & Nature Lab


Google Scholar

College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences | 116 Edwards Hall