Sara Tabatabaie
PhD, ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES '18 • Research Associate

Dissertation: “Understanding Ways in which the Built Environment, Greenness and UV Radiation Affect Physical Activity for Minority and Low-Income Residents and High Risk Skin Cancer Patients in Denver, Colorado.”

Sara Tabatabaie has a PhD in environmental studies specializing in community health, an MA in urban planning from McGill University and a BS in civil engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Iran.

She joined CEDaR in 2018, where she is managing community-based urban planning, environmental planning and environmental health projects. Since 2018, she has also served as a lecturer for University of Colorado Boulder's Program in Environmental Design. Sara also has worked with several design firms and nonprofits in the US and Canada, and her research interests span environmental health, green infrastructure, health-related policy analysis and determinants of health disparities.

Throughout her professional career, Sara was involved in preparation of several master planning projects and urban design guidelines. Throughout her PhD study, she served as the project lead and primary investigator for several projects, including the preparation of a shade audit instrument for Denver residential neighborhoods funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and for the Role of the Bicycle Master Plans in Advancing Built Environment Changes, completed as part of Kaiser Permanente's Walk and Wheel evaluation project. 

Within research contexts, Sara is interested in the application of community-based participatory research (CBPR) and community-engaged scholarship to generate local knowledge and integrate it into every phase of the research process, and her two recent projects, Via Verde Westwood, and the Visual Landscape Assessment (VLA) of Residential Streets for Walking exemplify these values and practices. Via Verde Westwood is a community-based planning studio project addressing public health and safety issues in Westwood, a low-income, Hispanic neighborhood in Denver. This project was completed in 2016. The VLA of Residential Streets for Walking project is a part of her dissertation, examining street design features that affect the desirability of residential streets for walking.


  • Tabatabaie, S., Litt, J.S. & Crane, L.A. The experience of outdoor physical activity for skin cancer survivors: understanding the importance of the built and natural environments. J Cancer Surviv (2020).