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Aaron Hipp


Jordan Hall 5124

View CV 



University of California, Irvine. Ph.D. 2009

  • Social Ecology

Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC. B.S. 2000

  • Biology

Current Research Interests

  • How, where, and why our public built environments impact health behaviors such as physical activity and recreation.
  • Use of emerging technologies and crowdsourcing to study the interaction between built environments and community health behaviors.
  • Understanding and improving spatial uncertainty in built environment and physical activity research.
  • How programs such as Open Streets and Ciclovias help activate public built environments and potentially increase healthy and sustainable behaviors.
  • The effect of the environment where we spend most of our time (work/school and sleep) on leisure time physical activity.

Recent Courses Taught

  • PRT 504: Data Management and Evaluation in Parks, Recreation Tourism & Sport



View all publications 


Date: 01/05/23 - 1/05/24
Amount: $85,611.00
Funding Agencies: United States Golf Association

Development of a spatio-temporal mapping platform producing a time-series (1990 - 2020) golf course value proposition for Wake County, NC, and Los Angeles County, CA

Date: 04/01/19 - 12/31/23
Amount: $125,000.00
Funding Agencies: National Recreation & Park Association

Each year, associated with the annual National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) Annual Meeting, NRPA redevelops a park in a low-income neighborhood located in the host city. NRPA wishes to evaluate this redevelopment, or Parks Build, beginning with the 2019 conference located in Baltimore, MD. The evaluation will assess pre and post redevelopment of the park and surrounding community with a focus on use of park, park-based physical activity, sense of community, economic development near the park, and sense of safety. This project will work specifically with the Parks Build in Baltimore with a four-year follow-up. A secondary purpose of this project is to establish evaluation metrics with park redevelopment that can be used across the US.

Date: 10/01/22 - 12/01/23
Amount: $89,763.00
Funding Agencies: KOMPAN, Inc.

Play is essential to developing physical and cognitive health for children. Children’s free play appears to be motivated by play environments, such as playgrounds and outdoor recreational settings. Understanding behaviors in playspaces (e.g., where; how using specific spaces and equipment; duration; and variations across groups) will improve design, layout, programming, and management to encourage diversity of play and hopefully a lifelong love and enjoyment of play and the outdoors across our diverse communities. It is currently challenging to analyze play patterns as children’s free play is spontaneous, creative, interactive, and changes over time and across spaces. Traditionally, play episodes were observed and annotated through behavior mapping based on activity types and start and end times of entering a designated play area (Luchs & Fikus, 2013; Sumiya & Nonaka, 2021). This approach is labor-intensive, records activities in play areas designated by researchers, and is often limited to one observation at a time. Wearable and quantitative approaches have been adopted to investigate children’s play patterns using accelerometers and global positioning system (GPS) technology. Our team has started to spatially-aggregate activity points overlaid with distinct playground playspaces (e.g., swing bay; slide) to demonstrate how children’s activity differs across these areas. We have also conducted a hotspot analysis to identify play areas where children tend to be more physically active (i.e., clustering of high intensity activity) compared to less physically active (i.e., clustering of low intensity, or no activity), however this method excludes duration from the clustering analysis. These initial data efforts have revealed a set of exploratory questions and aims, such as duration of play per space, individual, family, and group differences (e.g., sibling pair; gender differences), and how patterns change across time of day, week, season, and across age groups. With recent updates to density-based clustering methods, which identifies groups of points that cluster together in space and time, we have the opportunity to systematically identify play episodes through an unsupervised machine learning approach. This approach could provide valuable information for practitioners by identifying and mapping natural play patterns, better characterizing playspace and amenity use, and correlating play episodes and potential with specific structures, natural elements, social aspects, and layouts of playspaces.

Date: 07/01/21 - 3/31/23
Amount: $70,050.00
Funding Agencies: The Colorado Health Foundation

KABOOM! and NC State propose to conduct a comprehensive, cross-system map of playspace inequities that exist within three locally-focused communities to illuminate gaps in access to safe, quality places to play. This data-driven, community-informed approach will ultimately help catalyze equitable and inclusive playspace investments that help address the gaps identified through this project.

Date: 03/15/21 - 9/15/22
Amount: $36,546.00
Funding Agencies: NCSU Center for Human Health and the Environment

Our proposed project will seek to explore the relationship between greenspace exposure and telomere length in a large sample from the United States. This result can provide evidence for a biological pathway that greenspace exposure influences human health. The project will also examine the spatial scale of the exposure relationship to determine the feasibility of Zip codes as an analysis unit versus census geographies and residential location. If Zip codes provide sufficient results, this spatial information would provide a means of data collection in future studies that protects participant privacy. The proposed project will expand CHHE collaborations with new connections between Drs. Hipp and Reif. Importantly, pilot funding will also provide Dr. Ogletree, postdoctoral scholar in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management and the Center for Geospatial Analytics, with valuable experience to establish himself in the field of environmental health research and with NHANES data, expanding the potential for a K award.

Date: 09/15/19 - 9/14/22
Amount: $350,000.00
Funding Agencies: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program is a 3-year partnership between two researchers and one community engagement entity with an intent to work toward new perspectives on building a culture of health. This project addresses a new school/ YMCA facility, exploring both the operations of the facility as well as its potential for being a catalyst for health within the specific vulnerable community.

Date: 10/01/20 - 12/31/21
Amount: $153,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Health & Human Services (DHHS)

To increase physical activity among African Americans and low-income residents in Edgecombe County, NC State and Edgecombe County Cooperative Extension will 1) increase the number and promotion of shared use policies in community organizations, 2) connect and promote vital physical activity resources through wayfinding and signage, 3) improve connectivity between places people live, learn, work, play and pray through walking and recreation space audits, 4) support and promote walking and biking to and during school, and 5) partner with Recreation Resources Service (RRS), to create and implement a county park and recreation master plan.

Date: 08/15/19 - 12/31/20
Amount: $48,600.00
Funding Agencies: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Drs. Hipp and Floyd, graduate students Alberico and Huang, and their community partners will contribute to the following dissemination activities of PARC3 and PARC. 1. Presentations to different audiences – 6 min a. New/Non-traditional dissemination (e.g., webinar through Recreation Resources Services) b. Journal articles (min 2) c. Conferences / traditional outlets (e.g., National Recreation and Parks Association and The Academy of Leisure Sciences) • Where appropriate, provide support to partner organizations to share study findings • Participate in monthly research team meeting calls • Participate in one PARC in-person meeting (ALC 2020 in Orlando) • Participate in the development of PARC video • Contribute to pursuing funding opportunities

Date: 09/30/19 - 9/29/20
Amount: $70,000.00
Funding Agencies: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

To increase physical activity among African Americans and low-income residents in Edgecombe County, NC State Extension will 1) increase the number and promotion of shared use policies and practices in key community organizations, 2) connect and promote vital county and town physical activity resources through wayfinding and signage, 3) support municipalities in improving connectivity between places people live, learn, work, play and pray through walking and recreation space audits, 4) support and promote walking and biking to and during school, and 5) partner with Recreation Resource Services (RRS), the nation’s oldest technical assistance and applied research program for parks and recreation agencies in North Carolina, to create and implement a county and municipal park and recreation master plan.

Date: 08/26/16 - 6/01/20
Amount: $23,225.00
Funding Agencies: US Forest Service

Mounting evidence suggests that exposure to natural environments has promising human health benefits. Although research is accumulating, additional investigations involving different measures of green space and multiple health outcomes are needed. As public health, medical, and land management organizations increasingly promote contact with nature for health benefits, and prescribe nature for health, there is urgent need for more scientific evidence to guide policy and practice. This proposal requests support to conduct secondary analyses on three data sets focused on green space characteristics and population health.

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