Matthew Browning, Ph.D.Assistant Professor & Director, Virtual Reality and Nature Lab
Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourisma Management
College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
Contact: 864-656-9981 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Who is Dr. Browning?
In Dr. Browning’s research, he aims to improve human health and well-being through environmental interventions, both physical and simulated. Exposure to natural environments has been associated with myriad beneficial outcomes. Epidemiological research led by Dr. Browning and others shows rates of cardiovascular disease, mental illness, and opioid overdose are lower amongst people who live in greener neighborhoods. Psychological studies in the Virtual Reality and Nature Lab—which he directs—and elsewhere demonstrate nature exposure is protective against low-grade inflammation, chronic stress, and other causes of disease. His current and future research agenda examines therapeutic studies of VR in clinical settings and mechanistic studies of environmental exposure and health outcomes. His collaborations with Upstate providers include the Prisma Health Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. Drs. Karen Lommel, Megan Zappitelli, Alex Ewing and Dr. Browning are developing restorative VR experiences to improve adult and child experiences while in residential care. He also maintains collaborations with providers outside of the Upstate, including Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California; Carle Hospital in Urbana, Illinois; and McLarenin in Flint, Michigan.
For more information, see his Department Profile.
How Dr. Browning’s research is transforming health care
His collaborative research expands awareness of the protective impact of urban greening on health. Health spending, opioid overdose, and educational/socioeconomic inequity may be lessened through low-cost greening interventions. Working with health care providers and governmental committees is helping these research findings be translated into policy. Also, his Virtual Reality and Nature lab is leading clinical interventions at three health care providers to improve inpatient and outpatient quality of life through restorative 360-degree imagery.
News and media related to Dr. Browning’s research
- Washington Post - "Can Virtual Nature Be A Good Substitute for the Great Outdoors? The Science Says Yes"
- U.S. News & World Report - "Forested Counties Have Lower Medicare Costs, Study Finds"
- Conservation Finance Network - "Urban Forests Prune health Care Costs"
- Slate - "Let Kids Run Wild in the Woods"
- Conservation Magazine - "Kids Damage 'Nature Play Areas'"
- Pacific Standard - "New Research Links Green Spaces Lower Medicare Spending"
Health Research Expertise Keywords
Environmental determinants of health, Digital health interventions, Mood disorders, Health equity, Green/blue space exposure