Dr. Raja’s research focuses on planning and design for healthy communities and the fiscal dimensions of planning.
Her research on healthy communities examines the influence of the food and built environments on obesity and physical activity. Given the interdisciplinary nature of this topic, Dr. Raja collaborates with colleagues from UB’s School of Medicine and the School of Public Health and Health Professions. An ongoing multi-year study, conducted in collaboration with the School of Medicine, examines the effect of the built environment on obesity among youth, and has received over a million dollars in funding from the National Institute of Health.
Dr. Raja’s interests in fiscal dimensions of planning pertain to the methods planners use for measuring the fiscal impacts of land development. She is currently working, as a part of a national team, to develop a framework for evaluating traditional methods of fiscal impact analysis. This project is funded by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Dr. Raja has also worked internationally. Her international interests pertain to the role of planning in communities experiencing conflict; her geographic area of expertise is the region of Kashmir in South Asia.
B.Sc. (civil engineering), College of Engineering and
Technology, Jamia Millia University, New Delhi
M. Planning (housing), School of Architecture and Planning, New Delhi
Ph.D. (urban and regional planning), University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Raja teaches a combination of required and elective courses in the graduate MUP program. Currently, Dr. Raja teaches Research Methods, the first of a two-course required methods sequence. In the spring semester, Dr. Raja teaches Planning Methods, the second required course in the methods sequence, as well as Comparative International Planning and Development, a graduate seminar that introduces students to the theory and practice of development planning in developing countries, particularly in South Asia.
Dr. Raja's service to the community and the planning profession is linked to her research interests. As an active member of the national American Planning Association (APA), she works to bring the importance of community and regional food planning to the attention of practicing planners nationwide. As part of a recent effort funded by the Healthy Eating by Design program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she is leading a nationwide survey of APA members to discern their opinion of and role of planners in community and regional food planning. Other partners in this project include APA’s Food Systems Steering Committee, the University at Washington, and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. She also applies her research to address local and regional concerns. For example, Dr. Raja collaborates with the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) to plan, implement, and evaluate strategies and programs to strengthen local sustainable food systems in the City of Buffalo. She is currently evaluating the effectiveness of a mobile market project, operated by MAP, to bring healthful, affordable produce to ‘food desert’ neighborhoods in Buffalo.
- Raja, Samina. 2013. “A Review of “Sustainable Food Planning: Evolving Theory and Practice.” Journal of the American Planning Association. 79 (3):3-4.
- Yin, Li, Raja, Samina, Xiao Li, Yuan Lai, Leonard Epstein, and James Roemmich. 2013. “Neighborhood for Playing: Using GPS, GIS, and Accelerometry to Delineate Areas within which Youth are Physically Active.” Urban Studies. 50 (14): 1-18.
- Epstein, Leonard, Samina Raja, Tinuke Oluyomi Daniel, Rocco A. Paluch, Denise E. Wilfley, Brian E. Saelens, and James N. Roemmich, Ph.D. 2012. “The Built Environment Moderates Effects of Family-Based Childhood Obesity Treatment over 2 Years.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 44 (2): 248-58.
- Improving Health in the United States: The Role of Health Impact Assessment). The National Academies Press, 2011. [Authors in alpha order: D. Bear, R. Bhatia, S. Cantor, B. Cave, A. Diez Roux, C. Dora, J. Fielding, J Graff Zivin, Richard Jackson, J. Levy, J. Quint, S. Raja, A. Schulz, and A. Wernham.]
- Raja, Samina and Niraj Verma. 2010. “Got Perspective? A Theoretical View of Fiscal Impact Analysis.” Planning Theory. 9 (2): 126-136.
- Raja, Samina, Li Yin, James Roemmich, Changxing Ma, Leonard Epstein, Pavan Yadav, and Alex Ticoalu. 2010. “Food Environment, Built environment, and Women’s BMI: Evidence from Erie County, New York.” Journal of Planning Education and Research. 29: 444-460.
- Raja, Samina, Angelika Breinlich, and Aidan Kallas. 2010. “Partnerships to Promote Healthy Eating in School Environments: Lessons from Buffalo, New York.” Children, Youth, and Environment. 20 (2), 2010.
- Raja, Samina, Michael Ball, Justin Booth, Philip Haberstro, and Katherine Veith. 2009. “Leveraging neighborhood-scale change for policy and program reform in Buffalo, New York.” Special issue on Active Living by Design. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 37 (6S).
- Raja, Samina, Branden Born, and Jessica Kozlowski Russell. 2008. A Planner's Guide to Community and Regional Food Planning: Transforming Food Environments, Building Healthy Communities. Planning Advisory Service (PAS) Series. Number 554. Chicago, IL: American Planning Association.
- Raja, Samina, Changxing Ma, and Pavan Yadav. 2008. “Beyond food deserts: Measuring and mapping racial disparities in the food environment.” Journal of Planning Education and Research. 27 (4): 469-482.
- Roemmich, James, Leonard Epstein, Samina Raja, and Li Yin. 2007. “The neighborhood and home environments: Disparate relationships with physical activity and sedentary behaviors in youth.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 33 (1): 29-38
- Epstein, Leonard, Elizabeth Handley, Kelly K. Dearing, David D. Cho, James Roemmich, Rocco Paluch, Samina Raja, Youngju Pak, and Bonnie Spring. 2006. “Purchases of food in youth: Influence of Price and Income.” Psychological Science 17 (1): 82-89
- Roemmich, James, Leonard Epstein, Samina Raja, Li Yin, Jodie Robinson, and Dana Winiewicz. 2006. “Association of access to parks and recreational facilities with the physical activity of young children.” Preventive Medicine. (43) 6: 437-441
- Raja, Samina. 2006. “Kashmir” In Murer and Reveron (eds.) Flashpoints in the War on Terrorism: Understanding the Hot Spots that Stoke the Fire. New York, NY: Routledge
- Raja, Samina. 2006. “Seeking Common Ground in Smart Growth and Food System Planning: Lessons from the Food for Growth Studio” in “Teaching Smart Growth at Colleges and Universities: A Set of Model Course Prospectuses.” US Environmental Planning Agency.
- Epstein, Leonard, Samina Raja, Sam Gold, Rocky Paluch, and James Roemmich. 2006. “Reducing Sedentary Behavior: The Relationship Between Park Area and the Physical Activity of Youth.” Psychological Science. 17 (8):654-659
Selected activities, honors and awards
Dr. Raja is the principal or co-investigator on several studies that test the effect of the built and food environments on health (particularly physical activity and obesity). Her research is funded by the National Institute of Health (built environment and obesity), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (park access and obesity), the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (fiscal impacts of development), and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc (workplace design and health).
In 2005, under Dr. Raja's direction, the ‘Food for
Growth' graduate studio won a national award from the American
Association of Certified Planners (AICP).
In 2004, Dr. Raja represented the Institute of Objective Studies (New Delhi) at the 48th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.