Ph.D. Biology – Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology. University of Utah
B.S. Zoology. University of Washington

Email: thorton@northwestern.edu

Phone: 847-467-1686
Office: 1819 Hinman Ave., Third Floor



As a human biologist, I am an interdisciplinary scientist. I use the theories and techniques of anthropology, behavioral endocrinology, ecology, evolution, physiology, and psychology to investigate the mechanisms by which organisms, including humans, adapt to their environment. My early work focused on the neural and endocrine mechanisms by which rodents adapt to seasonal changes in day length, temperature, and energy availability; mechanisms that enable animals to be flexible in the face of environmental change. This work contributed to the rapidly expanding body of literature demonstrating the evolutionary significance of early life experiences (including pre- and peri-natal) and the developmental origins of health and disease.

Since joining the Laboratory for Human Biology Research in the Department of Anthropology, I have been able to use my knowledge and skills to conduct studies that speak directly to the question of how the environment influences human health and well-being. Just as wild species show impaired physical and mental health when removed from their optimal environments, so do humans. While much necessary and important research has documented the negative effects of the environment on health (e.g., brownfields, air pollution, lead contamination), researchers have only relatively recently focused on documenting the salutary effects of high quality green and blue spaces. My current research uses biomarkers and psychological assessments to test the hypothesis that access to natural landscapes contributes to improved health, wellbeing, and resilience of humans by offering an escape from the stressors of urban life.


Research Gate page

  1. Horton, T.H. (2020). We need nature and recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic. National Recreation Foundation Blog. March 28, 2020. https://www.nationalrecreationfoundation.org/blog/we-need-nature-and-recreation-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/
  2. Horton, T.H. and S. Bartlett-Hackenmiller. (2020). Commentary: Take a hike! Getting outside will help us through this pandemic. Chicago Tribune, March 20, 2020. https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-opinion-coronavirus-anxiety-outdoors-walks-20200320-ehpmdqwu75eqbicrs4mvtazyce-story.html
  3. Pearson, A. L., K. A. Pfeiffer, J. Gardiner, T. Horton, R. T. Buxton, R. F. Hunter, V. Breeze and T. McDade (2020). “Study of active neighborhoods in Detroit (StAND): study protocol for a natural experiment evaluating the health benefits of ecological restoration of parks.” BMC Public Health 20(1): 638. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-08716-3
  4. de Brito, J. N., Z. C. Pope, N. R. Mitchell, I. E. Schneider, J. M. Larson, T. H. Horton and M. A. Pereira (2020). “The effect of green walking on heart rate variability: A pilot crossover study.” Environmental Research 185: 109408. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935120303017
  5. Pearson, A. L., A. Shortridge, P. L. Delamater, T. H. Horton, K. Dahlin, A. Rzotkiewicz and M. J. Marchiori (2019). “Effects of freshwater blue spaces may be beneficial for mental health: A first, ecological study in the North American Great Lakes region.” PLoS One 14(8): e0221977. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31469889
  6. Koselka, E. P. D., L. C. Weidner, A. Minasov, M. G. Berman, W. R. Leonard, M. V. Santoso, J. N. de Brito, Z. C. Pope, M. A. Pereira and T. H. Horton (2019). “Walking Green: Developing an Evidence Base for Nature Prescriptions.” Int J Environ Res Public Health 16(22). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31703293
  7. de Brito, J. N., Z. C. Pope, N. R. Mitchell, I. E. Schneider, J. M. Larson, T. H. Horton and M. A. Pereira (2019). “Changes in Psychological and Cognitive Outcomes after Green versus Suburban Walking: A Pilot Crossover Study.” Int J Environ Res Public Health 16(16). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31412602
  8. Horton, T. H. (2016). Partners in Mental Health: Veterans, Therapists, and Nature. A Roundtable Report. Glencoe, IL, Nature, Culture, and Human Health and The Chicago Botanic Garden. https://northwestern.box.com/s/t2ken6lpbv1ytogczhe54300a2o6wmeg
  9. Horton, T. H. (2005). “Fetal origins of developmental plasticity: animal models of induced life history variation.” Am J Hum Biol 17(1): 34-43. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citation&list_uids=15611963
  10. Anand, S., S. Losee-Olson, F. W. Turek and T. H. Horton (2002). “Differential regulation of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone in male Siberian hamsters by exposure to females and photoperiod.” Endocrinology 143(6): 2178-2188. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12021181
  11. Solberg, L. C., T. H. Horton and F. W. Turek (1999). “Circadian rhythms and depression: effects of exercise in an animal model.” Am J Physiol 276(1): R152-161. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9887189
  12. Tomasi, T. E. and T. H. Horton (1992). Mammalian Energetics: Interdisciplinary Views of Metabolism and Reproduction. Ithaca, NY, Cornel University Press (Comstock Book).
  13. Horton, T. H. and C. N. Rowsemitt (1992). Natural Selection and Variation in Reproductive Physiology. Mammalian Energetics. Interdisciplinary Views of Metabolism and Reproduction. T. E. Tomasi and T. H. Horton. Ithaca, NY, Comstock Publishing Associates, Cornell University Press: 160-185.



  1. A Healthy Dose of Nature. (2019).WWTW Chicago Public Media.