Skip to main content

Deepti Adlakha, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

View CV 


Deepti Adlakha, Ph.D., is the Director of the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) and Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning. Dr. Adlakha is a Fulbright Scholar and an interdisciplinary scientist with a diverse educational background. She holds degrees in architecture, urban design, public health, and has extensive research experience within international contexts.

Dr. Adlakha’s research focuses on generating, translating, and scaling up evidence for reducing health inequities in underserved populations, especially children, youth, and families. This work includes examining how the neighborhood environment impacts weight status, physical activity, and dietary behaviors across the lifespan. As Director of NLI, she is currently involved in designing outdoor learning environments for preschools, special education facilities, and school grounds in the US.

Dr. Adlakha is passionate about promoting access to nature in the daily experience of children of all ages and abilities through environmental design, action research, education, and dissemination of information. She collaborates with community partners and public health practitioners to help implement policy, systems, and environment change around active living.

Dr. Adlakha has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and popular media, including TEDx, BBC, The Conversation, and Scientific American. Prior to her appointment at NC State, she held a tenured faculty position in the School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications

Adlakha, D., Sarmiento, O.L., & Franco, S.S. (in press). Designing intergenerational communities: Next steps for age-friendly cities in the Global South. Planning Theory and Practice.

Liu, J., Adlakha, D., Thomas, Y., Banerjee, S., Yongsi, B.N., Jayasinghe, S. (2021). Asian city prospects for planning and urban health. Cities & Health. https://doi:10.1080/23748834.2021.1945365

Liu, S., Higgs, C., Arundel, J., Boeing, G., Flores, D., Cerdera, N., Cerin, E., Adlakha, D., Lowe, M. & Giles-Corti, G.C. (2021). A generalized framework for measuring pedestrian accessibility around the world using open data. Geographical Analysis.

Adlakha, D. & Sallis, J.F. (2020). Activity-friendly neighbourhoods can benefit non-communicable and infectious diseases. Cities & Health—Special Issue on COVID-19, Cities, and Health, 1-5. https://doi:10.1080/23748834.2020.1783479

Link to infographic here.

Sallis, J. F., Adlakha, D., Oyeyemi, A., & Salvo, D. (2020). An international physical activity and public health research agenda to inform coronavirus disease-19 policies and practices. Journal of Sport and Health Science, S2095-2546(2020)30064-30068. Special Issue on COVID-19,

Lambert, E.V., Kolbe-Alexander, T., Adlakha, D., Oyeyemi, A., Anokye, N. K., Goenka, S., Mogrovejo, P., & Salvo, D. (2020). Making the case for ‘physical activity security’: The 2020 WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour from a Global South perspective. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 54(24), 1447.

Adlakha, D., Brownson, R.C., & Hipp, J.A. (2020). Built environment correlates of overweight and obesity in Chennai, India. Cities & Health—Special Issue on Asian City Futures: Spatial Form and Health, 1-9.

Adlakha, D. & Parra, D.C. (2020). Mind the gap: Gender differences in walkability, transportation and physical activity in urban India. Journal of Transport & Health, 18, 100875.

Parra, D.C., Adlakha, D., Pinzon, J.D., Van Zandt, A., Brownson, R.C. & Gomez, L.F. (2020). Geographic distribution of the Ciclovia and Recreovia Programs by neighborhood SES in Bogotá: How unequal is the geographic access assessed via distance-based measures? Journal of Urban Health.

Selected Book Chapters

Adlakha, D., & Felix, J. Push for pedal power: The case for urban cycling in India. In K. Siefken, A.R. Varela, N. Schulenkorf & T. Waqanivalu (Eds.), Physical Activity in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. London: Routledge.

Adlakha, D. Reclaiming streets for people in urban India. In A. Martire, J. Clossick & B. Hausleitner (Eds.), Streetspace: An Anthology of Everyday Streets. London: UCL Press.


TEDx—Post Pandemic Cities: Design Factors for Health and Equity

BBC Northern Ireland—Home Ground: Series on Designing Cities for Wildlife and Biodiversity

Scientific American—Population Density Does Not Doom Cities to Pandemic Dangers

Radio Sputnik—Changing city density is not necessarily going to have positive benefits on public health

The Conversation—Why urban density is good for health – even during a pandemic


Ph.D., Brown School Prevention Research Centre Washington University in St. Louis

Master of Urban Design Washington University in St. Louis

Bachelor of Architecture School of Architecture and Planning Chennai, India

Area(s) of Expertise

Urban design; healthy places; children and adolescent/youth health and development; active living; physical activity; parks and green spaces; quantitative, qualitative, and participatory methods in design and research


View all publications