Sandra J Winter was born and raised in Zimbabwe, then moved to Cape Town in South Africa where she was a successful entrepreneur, owning and operating a number of businesses in the advertising industry. In 2003 Sandra moved with her family from Cape Town, South Africa to Lexington, Kentucky where she completed a Master of Health Administration in May, 2006 and a PhD in Public Administration (Health Policy Track) in December, 2009. Her graduate research work focused on the health care that is provided to prison inmates in Kentucky.

In 2009 Sandra moved from Kentucky to California where she started working at the Stanford Prevention Research Center (SPRC). At SPRC Sandra has held a number of positions including Fitness assessor, biometric screener and wellness advisor with the BeWell program; Social Science Research Assistant with Abby King’s Healthy Aging Research and Technology Solutions (HARTS) lab; Project Manager for the SPRC/Qassim University College of Medicine, Saudi Arabia collaboration,and Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Sandra is currently the Director of the Wellness Living Laboratory (WELL). The scientific goal of WELL is to generate novel hypothesis-driven inquiries, tested at the population level, to build the evidence-base of wellness. A dual research focus on observation and intervention will establish best practices for wellness. A community based approach that engages community members as citizen scientists will be used to develop and test lifestyle and environmental changes aimed at lowering risk for chronic diseases and promoting health and quality of life among all segments of the population.

Sandra's research areas of interest include community-based interventions among under resourced populations. particularly in a global context. She is also interested in the role the environments in which we live, work and play affect our ability to lead healthy active lives.

Current Role at Stanford

Research Associate with the Stanford Prevention Research Center
Director of the Well Living Laboratory

Honors & Awards

  • Winner: Excellence Award - for research using the Stanford Healthy Neighborhood Discovery Tool, Center for Active Design, New York (2015)
  • 1st place overall winner for a poster presentation, Active Living Research Annual Conference, San Diego (2014)
  • 3rd place for an oral presentation. (Sheats JL, Winter SJ.), International SenseCam & Pervasive Imaging Conference, San Diego (2013)
  • Honorable Mention - Erickson Foundation Award for Excellence in Research, American Public Health Association, San Francisco (2012)
  • Tuition Scholarship, Built Environment Assessment Training Institute, Boston (2012)
  • 1st Place – Graduate Student Poster Session, American Correctional Association Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina (2008)
  • Distinction in Healthcare Administration, Honor Society Award of Upsilon Phi Delta, Lexington, Kentucky (2008)
  • Most Outstanding Graduating Student, Martin School of Public Policy and Administration, University of Kentucky (2006)

Education & Certifications

  • PhD, University of Kentucky, Public Administrtion (Health Policy Track) (2009)
  • MHA, University of Kentucky, Health Administration (2006)
  • Prof Cert Online Teaching, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Continuing Studies (2012)

Service, Volunteer and Community Work

  • Volunteer: RotcCare, Half Moon Bay, California, Rotacare Bay Area, Inc (March 1, 2010 - 8/31/2015)

    RotaCare Bay Area is a volunteer alliance of medical professionals, organizations and community members dedicated to providing free primary, quality healthcare services to uninsured families and individuals with limited ability to pay for medical care. RotaCare is entirely volunteer driven and supported solely through locally based philanthropy.


    Half Moon Bay

  • Board Member: Senior Coastsiders, Half Moon Bay


    Half Moon Bay, California


Professional Affiliations and Activities

  • Co-Chair, Aging Special Interest Group, Society of Behavioral Medicine (2015 - Present)


All Publications

  • Validation of Physical Activity Tracking via Android Smartphones Compared to ActiGraph Accelerometer: Laboratory-Based and Free-Living Validation Studies. JMIR mHealth and uHealth Hekler, E. B., Buman, M. P., Grieco, L., Rosenberger, M., Winter, S. J., Haskell, W., King, A. C. 2015; 3 (2)


    There is increasing interest in using smartphones as stand-alone physical activity monitors via their built-in accelerometers, but there is presently limited data on the validity of this approach.The purpose of this work was to determine the validity and reliability of 3 Android smartphones for measuring physical activity among midlife and older adults.A laboratory (study 1) and a free-living (study 2) protocol were conducted. In study 1, individuals engaged in prescribed activities including sedentary (eg, sitting), light (sweeping), moderate (eg, walking 3 mph on a treadmill), and vigorous (eg, jogging 5 mph on a treadmill) activity over a 2-hour period wearing both an ActiGraph and 3 Android smartphones (ie, HTC MyTouch, Google Nexus One, and Motorola Cliq). In the free-living study, individuals engaged in usual daily activities over 7 days while wearing an Android smartphone (Google Nexus One) and an ActiGraph.Study 1 included 15 participants (age: mean 55.5, SD 6.6 years; women: 56%, 8/15). Correlations between the ActiGraph and the 3 phones were strong to very strong (ρ=.77-.82). Further, after excluding bicycling and standing, cut-point derived classifications of activities yielded a high percentage of activities classified correctly according to intensity level (eg, 78%-91% by phone) that were similar to the ActiGraph's percent correctly classified (ie, 91%). Study 2 included 23 participants (age: mean 57.0, SD 6.4 years; women: 74%, 17/23). Within the free-living context, results suggested a moderate correlation (ie, ρ=.59, P<.001) between the raw ActiGraph counts/minute and the phone's raw counts/minute and a strong correlation on minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA; ie, ρ=.67, P<.001). Results from Bland-Altman plots suggested close mean absolute estimates of sedentary (mean difference=-26 min/day of sedentary behavior) and MVPA (mean difference=-1.3 min/day of MVPA) although there was large variation.Overall, results suggest that an Android smartphone can provide comparable estimates of physical activity to an ActiGraph in both a laboratory-based and free-living context for estimating sedentary and MVPA and that different Android smartphones may reliably confer similar estimates.

    View details for DOI 10.2196/mhealth.3505

    View details for PubMedID 25881662

  • Seguin RA, Morgan EH, Connor LM, Garner JA, King AC, Sheats JL, Winter SJ, Buman MP. Rural Food and Physical Activity Assessment Using a Novel e-Tablet-Based Application: Findings and Opportunities to Catalyze Change. Preventing Chronic Disease Seguin, R. A., Morgan, E. H., Connor, L. M., Garner, J. A., King, A. C., Sheats, J. L., Winter, S. J., Buman, M. P. 2015
  • Using Citizen Scientists to Gather, Analyze, and Disseminate Information About Neighborhood Features That Affect Active Living. Journal of immigrant and minority health / Center for Minority Public Health Winter, S. J., Goldman Rosas, L., Padilla Romero, P., Sheats, J. L., Buman, M. P., Baker, C., King, A. C. 2015


    Many Latinos are insufficiently active, partly due to neighborhoods with little environmental support for physical activity. Multi-level approaches are needed to create health-promoting neighborhoods in disadvantaged communities. Participant "citizen scientists" were adolescent (n = 10, mean age = 12.8 ± 0.6 years) and older adult (n = 10, mean age = 71.3 ± 6.5 years), low income Latinos in North Fair Oaks, California. Citizen scientists conducted environmental assessments to document perceived barriers to active living using the Stanford Healthy Neighborhood Discovery Tool, which records GPS-tracked walking routes, photographs, audio narratives, and survey responses. Using a community-engaged approach, citizen scientists subsequently attended a community meeting to engage in advocacy training, review assessment data, prioritize issues to address and brainstorm potential solutions and partners. Citizen scientists each conducted a neighborhood environmental assessment and recorded 366 photographs and audio narratives. Adolescents (n = 4), older adults (n = 7) and community members (n = 4) collectively identified reducing trash and improving personal safety and sidewalk quality as the priority issues to address. Three adolescent and four older adult citizen scientists volunteered to present study findings to key stakeholders. This study demonstrated that with minimal training, low-income, Latino adolescent and older adult citizen scientists can: (1) use innovative technology to gather information about features of their neighborhood environment that influence active living, (2) analyze their information and identify potential solutions, and (3) engage with stakeholders to advocate for the development of healthier neighborhoods.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10903-015-0241-x

    View details for PubMedID 26184398

  • Harnessing the potential of older adults to measure and modify their environments: long-term successes of the Neighborhood Eating and Activity Advocacy Team (NEAAT) Study Translational Behavioral Medicine Winter, S. J., Buman, M. P., Sheats, J. L., Hekler, E. B., Otten, J. J., Baker, C., Cohen, D., Butler, B. A., King, A. C. 2014
  • Ethnographic Study of Shoppers’ Experiences at an Urban Farmer’s Market Public Health Nutrition Buman, M. P., Bertmann, F., Hekler, E. B., Winter, S. J., Sheats, J. L., King, A. C., Wharton, C. M. 2014
  • The stanford healthy neighborhood discovery tool: a computerized tool to assess active living environments. American journal of preventive medicine Buman, M. P., Winter, S. J., Sheats, J. L., Hekler, E. B., Otten, J. J., Grieco, L. A., King, A. C. 2013; 44 (4): e41-7


    The built environment can influence physical activity, particularly among older populations with impaired mobility. Existing tools to assess environmental features associated with walkability are often cumbersome, require extensive training, and are not readily available for use by community residents.This project aimed to develop and evaluate the utility of a computerized, tablet-based participatory tool designed to engage older residents in identifying neighborhood elements that affect active living opportunities.Following formative testing, the tool was used by older adults (aged ?65 years, in 2011) to record common walking routes (tracked using built-in GPS) and geocoded audio narratives and photographs of the local neighborhood environment. Residents (N=27; 73% women; 77% with some college education; 42% used assistive devices) from three low-income communal senior housing sites used the tool while navigating their usual walking route in their neighborhood. Data were analyzed in 2012.Elements (from 464 audio narratives and photographs) identified as affecting active living were commensurate with the existing literature (e.g., sidewalk features, aesthetics, parks/playgrounds, crosswalks). However, within each housing site, the profile of environmental elements identified was distinct, reflecting the importance of granular-level information collected by the tool. Additionally, consensus among residents was reached regarding which elements affected active living opportunities.This tool serves to complement other assessments and assist decision makers in consensus-building processes for environmental change.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.11.028

    View details for PubMedID 23498112

  • Harnessing different motivational frames via mobile phones to promote daily physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior in aging adults. PloS one King, A. C., Hekler, E. B., Grieco, L. A., Winter, S. J., Sheats, J. L., Buman, M. P., Banerjee, B., Robinson, T. N., Cirimele, J. 2013; 8 (4)


    Mobile devices are a promising channel for delivering just-in-time guidance and support for improving key daily health behaviors. Despite an explosion of mobile phone applications aimed at physical activity and other health behaviors, few have been based on theoretically derived constructs and empirical evidence. Eighty adults ages 45 years and older who were insufficiently physically active, engaged in prolonged daily sitting, and were new to smartphone technology, participated in iterative design development and feasibility testing of three daily activity smartphone applications based on motivational frames drawn from behavioral science theory and evidence. An "analytically" framed custom application focused on personalized goal setting, self-monitoring, and active problem solving around barriers to behavior change. A "socially" framed custom application focused on social comparisons, norms, and support. An "affectively" framed custom application focused on operant conditioning principles of reinforcement scheduling and emotional transference to an avatar, whose movements and behaviors reflected the physical activity and sedentary levels of the user. To explore the applications' initial efficacy in changing regular physical activity and leisure-time sitting, behavioral changes were assessed across eight weeks in 68 participants using the CHAMPS physical activity questionnaire and the Australian sedentary behavior questionnaire. User acceptability of and satisfaction with the applications was explored via a post-intervention user survey. The results indicated that the three applications were sufficiently robust to significantly improve regular moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity and decrease leisure-time sitting during the 8-week behavioral adoption period. Acceptability of the applications was confirmed in the post-intervention surveys for this sample of midlife and older adults new to smartphone technology. Preliminary data exploring sustained use of the applications across a longer time period yielded promising results. The results support further systematic investigation of the efficacy of the applications for changing these key health-promoting behaviors.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0062613

    View details for PubMedID 23638127

  • Comparison of passive versus active photo capture of built environment features by technology naïve Latinos using the SenseCam and Stanford Healthy Neighborhood Discovery Tool Association for Computing Machinery Digital Library Sheats, J. L., Winter, S. J., Padilla-Romero, P., Goldman Rosas, L., Grieco, L. A., King, A. C. 2013
  • A Comparison of Acuity and Treatment Measures of Inmate and Noninmate Hospital Patients With a Diagnosis of Either Heart Disease or Chest Pain JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION Winter, S. J. 2011; 103 (2): 109-115


    This paper used the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project National Inpatient Survey for the period 1998-2004 to examine whether California male inmate hospital patients with a primary diagnosis of heart disease or chest pain receive poorer quality of care (measures = number and type of procedures and time from admission to first procedure) or are sicker (measures = length of stay, risk of mortality, severity of illness, and number of diagnoses) compared to noninmate patients.Differences between inmates and noninmates were examined using a t test for continuous variables and a chi2 test for categorical variables. Multiple linear regression, logistic regression, and ordered logistic regression were used to investigate relationships between the outcome variables and inmate/noninmate status, controlling for age, race, expected payer, hospital, and total charges.Being an inmate was not statistically significantly associated with acuity or quality of care for patients with chest pain. For patients with heart disease, being an inmate was statistically significantly associated with a decrease in time to first procedure of 0.464 days (standard error = 0.189, p = .015) and an increase in length of stay of 0.81 days (standard error = 0.256, p = .002).The provision of health care to prison inmates is required by law, paid for by taxpayers, and increasing as the inmate population increases. The findings that, on average, inmate patients with heart disease stay in the hospital longer and receive treatment sooner compared to noninmate patients do not indicate that inmates receive poorer quality of care compared to noninmates.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000287910000003

    View details for PubMedID 21443062

  • Neighborhood eating and activity advocacy teams (NEAAT): Engaging older adults in policy activities to improve built environments for health. Translational Behavioral Medicine Buman MP, Winter SJ, Baker C, Hekler EB, Otten JJ, King AC. 2011; on-line
  • Translating knowledge about community-based chronic disease prevention and health promotion research methods and programs from the United States of America to Saudi Arabia. Translational Behavioral Medicine Winter, S. J., King, A. C., Stafford, R. S., Winkleby, M. A., Haskell, W. L., Farquhar, J. W. 2011; 1 (2): 289-298
  • Improving the Quality of Health Care Delivery in a Corrections Setting Journal of Correctional Health Care Winter, S. J. 2007; 14 (3): 168 - 182
  • Participative Planning to Enhance Offender Wellness: Preliminary Report of a Correctional Wellness Program Journal of Correctional Health Care Curd, P. R., Winter, S. J., Connell, A. 2007; 13 (4): 298-308