Robert L. Atkins

Associate Professor
Contact Information
New Jersey Health Initiatives of the RWJF
323 Cooper Street
Camden, NJ 08102
(856) 225-6483
PhD: Dept. of Public Health, Temple University (Health Studies)
MSN: Rutgers University (Child and Family)
BSN: University of Pennsylvania
BA: Brown University (Political Science and American Civilizations)
Research Interest: 

Robert (Bob) Atkins, PhD, RN, FAAN, currently serves as the Director of the New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI), a statewide grantmaking program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Bob Atkins has conducted research with nationally representative longitudinal survey data and qualitative data collected in Camden explores the effects of urban poverty on child and adolescent health and development. Atkins’ work explored three questions about the health and development of youth living in high-poverty neighborhoods: 1) What social and institutional processes mediate the relationship of high-poverty neighborhoods to the health and well-being of youth living in those neighborhoods? 2)  How does childhood personality influence the emergence of health-damaging behaviors in adolescence? 3) What do youth in high-poverty neighborhoods do to promote, maintain, or restore their own health?

Fresh out of nursing school, Bob moved to the city of Camden where he worked as a school nurse at East Camden Middle School and co-founded the Camden STARR Program, a non-profit youth development program dedicated to improving the life chances of youth living in Camden. Bob’s work in Camden motivated him to complete a PhD in the Department of Public Health at Temple University to better understand the factors that influence the health and well-being of children living in vulnerable communities.

Bob is a life long New Jersey resident and is committed to building healthier communities across the state through effective collaborations and partnerships, meaningful conversations across sectors, and evidence-based innovations. For example, Bob leads several NJHI initiatives that engage more nurses (and school nurses) in building a Culture of Health in NJ.

Focus Areas

  • Health of children living in distressed environments
  • Health and well-being of vulnerable populations living in high poverty neighborhoods

Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (2013)