Dina Izenstark, PhD

Dina Izenstark

Assistant Professor, Child & Adolescent Development

Dina earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. She is an applied, interdisciplinary scholar with a program of research that explores how engagement in the natural environment positively influences youth development and family relationships.


  • Ph.D., Human Development & Family Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • M.S., Recreation, Sport, and Tourism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • B.S., Recreation, Sport, and Tourism, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Recent Publications

  • Izenstark, D., Crossman, K., & Middaugh, E., (2021). Examining family-based nature activities among Latinx students: contexts for reinforcing family relationships and cultural heritage. Annals of Leisure Research.
  • Izenstark, D., & Ravindran, N. (2021). The affective and conversational benefits of a walk in nature among mother–daughter dyads. Applied Psychology Health and Well-Being.
  • Izenstark, D. & Middaugh, E. (2021). Patterns of family-based nature activities across the early life course and their association with adulthood outdoor participation and preference. Journal of Leisure Research.
  • Perry, S.C., Izenstark, D., & Larson, R. (2021). How to bargain successfully with adolescents: What can be learned from youth development professionals? Journal of Community Psychology. Advance online publication.
  • Izenstark, D. (2019). Sustaining family relationships over time through family-based nature activities. Family Focus, 81, 14-15.
  • Izenstark, D. & Ebata, A. T. (2019). Why families go outside: An exploration of mothers’ and daughters’ family-based nature activities. Leisure Sciences. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/01490400.2019.1625293

Recent Presentations

  • Izenstark, D. & Sharaievska, I. (April 2021). Impact of Covid-19 on children’s leisure experiences: Fathers’ perspectives. Poster to be presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Virtual Biennial Meeting.
  • Izenstark, D. & Ravindran, N. (February 2021). Examination of how family time spent in nature across childhood influences adulthood family relationship quality among Latinx and Asian American students. Paper presented at The Academy of Leisure Sciences Virtual Conference.
  • Izenstark D., Ravindran, N., Rodriguez, S., & Devine, N. (November 2020). The affective benefits of the natural environment. Poster presented at the National Council on Family Relations Virtual Conference.
  • Izenstark, D., Middaugh, E., & Crossman, K.A. (February 2020). Past family-based nature activities and improved family functioning in adulthood. Poster presented at The Academy of Leisure Sciences conference, Champaign, IL.

Noteworthy Grants and Awards

  • Undergraduate Research Grant for Natalee Devine ($1000); San José State University; Fall 2019-Spring 2020
  • Undergraduate Research Grant for Sarah Rodriguez ($1000); San José State University; Fall 2018-Spring 2019

Online Resources

Areas of Research Interest

Areas of Research Interest

  • Attention restoration theory
  • Family-based nature activities
  • Family leisure
  • Natural environment
  • Parent-child interactions
  • Routines and rituals

Recommended Reading

Personality Playlist

Listen to Dina's playlist below and access all of the personality playlists on our Lurie College of Education Spotify account