Ming (Frances) Kuo is a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she directs the multidisciplinary Landscape and Human Health Laboratory. Her background is in cognitive psychology and environmental psychology, with degrees from the University of California, Berkeley (M.A.) and the University of Michigan (Ph.D.). Dr. Kuo is a nationally and internationally recognized scientist examining the impacts of the urban forest on human health. Her research focuses on how “green space” supports healthy human functioning, in both individuals and communities. Starting in 1993, she led a series of studies on the impacts of green spaces on human functioning in inner city Chicago, for which she and her collaborators received the Environmental Design Research Association’s Achievement Award.
Dr. Kuo’s work is reaching policymakers at the highest levels and academics and practitioners in many different fields. Dr. Kuo’s work has been presented on Capitol Hill, and she regularly gives invited testimony to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture’s National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council. She recently served as a consultant to the CDC in developing a national research agenda on community design and health, and to the U.S.D.A. in developing their national research and technology transfer agenda in urban forestry for the next decade. Dr. Kuo has given keynote and invited talks to a number of national and international organizations, including the Society of American Forests, Society of Municipal Arborists, International Horticultural Congress, Environmental Design Research Association, American Community Gardening Association, National Arbor Day Foundation, and the International Society for Urban Health.
Dr. Kuo’s work is having an impact on environmental policy nationally and internationally. Within the U.S., Dr. Kuo’s work was instrumental in a $10 million tree planting in Chicago -- the largest in the City’s history -- and in transforming the face of the city's public housing. Her work was used to successfully argue for new municipal tree ordinances in over two dozen communities in New England and was integral to the adoption of an urban forestry resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Internationally, agencies and individuals in Wales, Canada, the Netherlands, and the Caribbean have used Dr. Kuo’s findings to argue for the preservation and expansion of urban green space.
Currently, Dr. Kuo is working with the American Society of Landscape Architects and the LadyBird Johnson Wildflower Center on the Sustainable Sites Initiative -- a LEED-style credit system for recognizing sustainable landscapes.