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. (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
  • Izenstark, D. & Ebata, A. (2017). The effects of a walk in nature on attention and family cohesion: An experimental design study. Children, Youth & Environments, 27(2), 93-109.
  • Izenstark, D. & Ebata, A. (2016). Theorizing family-based nature activities and family functioning: The integration of attention restoration theory with a family routines and rituals perspective. Journal of Family Theory and Review, 8, 137-153.
  • Izenstark, D., Oswald, R.F., Holman, E.G., Mendez, S. & Greder, K. (2016). Rural, low-income mothers’ use of family-based nature activities to promote family health. Journal of Leisure Research, 48(2), 134-155. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.18666/JLR-2016-V48-I2-6409

Recent Presentations

  • 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.
  • Rodriguez, S. & Izenstark, D. (April 2019). The impact of leisure setting on mother-daughter cohesiveness. Poster presented at SJSU Celebration of Research, San Jose, CA.
  • Izenstark, D. (April, 2019). Promoting students’ sense of belonging in a freshman block course. Poster presented at SJSU Student Success Symposium, San Jose, CA.
  • Izenstark, D. & Crossman, K.A (March, 2019). Teaching strategies for active engagement in the classroom. Poster presented at the CSU Symposium on Teaching and Learning, Fresno, CA.
  • Izenstark, D. & Ebata, T. (November, 2018). Perceived health benefits of mothers’ and daughters’ time spent in nature. Paper presented at the National Council on Family Relations, San Diego, CA.

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 

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