Design + Environmental Analysis faculty share an interest in the interplay between the physical environment and human health and well-being. We see design as a problem-solving tool that helps people to think better and to improve the human condition. 

The three main scholarly clusters in D+EA are Design Strategy and Innovation, Sustainable Futures, and Health & Well-Being. Design Strategy and Innovation focuses on how designers conceptualize solutions to problems at the individual and organizational level; Sustainable Futures focuses on human-environment interactions with the build environment that affect the health of the planet; and Health & Well-Being examines how the physical environment, in concert with personal and social factors, affects health outcomes.

Design Strategy and Innovation

Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao’s research practice, themed Hybrid Body Craft, blends aesthetic and cultural perspectives into the design of on-body interfaces. She creates novel processes for crafting technology close to the body. Her work investigates opportunities for cultural interventions in the development of technologies that move beyond wearable clothing and accessories and are purposefully designed to be placed directly on the skin surface. The Hybrid Body Craft research practice contributes a culturally sensitive lens to the design of on-body technologies. The intention is to expand their lifetimes and purposes beyond mere novelty and into the realms of cultural customs and traditions.

Keith Evan Green’s research lies at the interface of architectural design, robotics, and psychology. Green’s Architectural Robotics Lab develops, prototypes, and evaluates cyber-physical environments for an increasingly digital society. Informed by human needs and wants, Green’s lab strives to realize techno-ecological systems that cultivate interactions across people and their surroundings that define places of social, cultural, and psychological significance. Research foci include: human-robot and human-computer interaction, interactive and adaptive physical environments, enabling technologies, cyber-physical systems, and interaction design. Green’s research crosses with the Health & Well-being cluster.

Saleh Kalantari’s research focuses on human–technology partnerships in the design process, and the resulting opportunities for innovation and creativity. His work promotes generative-design approaches and the adoption of new design technologies to improve the relationship between people and their created environment. Dr. Kalantari is the director of the Design and Augmented Intelligence Lab, where he works on developing innovative AI-aided design tools with two main focus areas: (1) developing cyber–human systems to improve the application of designers’ ingenuity, skills, and competencies in the creation of a unique product; and (2) using biometric sensory data (EEG sensors, heart-rate monitors, motion-capture technology, etc.) and novel computational techniques to more effectively understand human responses to architectural intervention during the design process.  

So-Yeon Yoon’s research focuses on understanding user experience and usability in various types of built environments using advanced visualization and bio-sensing technologies in three main areas: a) user experience of environmental factors in using psychophysiological signals combined with high-fidelity simulations; b) creative problem-solving process and communication in relation to human-computer interaction and design focusing on individual and cultural differences; and c) design evaluation employing emerging technologies to understand emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses to design elements in physical and virtually built environments.

Sustainable Futures

Jack Elliott’s research is focused on three separate topics, all related to different facets of sustainable design in the built environment. The first has to do with minimizing the negative environmental effects of making buildings by considering the embodied energies of building materials and the implications of how they are brought together to make a building (Triakonta building systems). The second is focused on reducing the carbon footprint of concrete, the most abundant substance produced by humankind (Charcrete). The last is considering the impact of aesthetics as another form of outreach pertaining to our declining biophysical situation (Arborworks).

Ying Hua’s research on sustainable buildings focuses on: 1) methodology and tools for building post-occupancy evaluation to understand the interaction between occupants, building systems, and the resulting building environmental performance and user satisfaction, and 2) stakeholder interaction and engagement to address non-technological barriers for the delivery of sustainable buildings. She is also doing work under Design Strategy and Innovation to understand the impact of workplace in corporate, education, and healthcare settings on occupants’ perception of work environments, interactive behavior and organizational outcomes.

Health & Well-Being

Gary W. Evans is an environmental and developmental psychologist interested in how the physical environment affects human health and well-being among children. His specific areas of expertise include the environment of childhood poverty, children's environments (housing, schools, playgrounds, toys), cumulative risk and child development, environmental stressors, and the development of children's environmental attitudes and behaviors. 

Janet Loebach’s research focuses on children’s perception and use of their everyday environments and the socio-environmental factors which influence children’s behavior and well-being.  She investigates the impacts of neighborhood type on children’s community play and mobility. Her areas of expertise include assessment and design of natural and built play and learning environments for children. She also has extensive experience with participatory, child-led and community-based planning processes.  

Jay (JungKyoon) Yoon studies how products can be systematically designed to enrich users’ momentary as well as long-term experiences by means of emotions, building on knowledge and methods from user-centered design, positive psychology, and persuasive technology. His recent research focuses on designing for affective experiences and subjective well-being with an emphasis on increasing designers’ emotional intelligence. The research findings have been applied to and iteratively improved through several industry projects that cover multiple design contexts and business domains, e.g., a smart home service, an airport crew-center, a museum tour and a brand loyalty program. 

Mardelle McCuskey Shepley’s research foci include: the design of healthcare facilities (with a current emphasis on mental and behavioral health settings) and the evaluation of healthcare environments, ranging from single rooms and furniture to site and landscape design. Her papers and books are structured to enhance the communication between designers/clinicians and researchers.

Nancy M. Wells’ research centers on issues of how the built and natural environments affect human health and well-being. Her primary areas of research are: a) the influence of nature (including school gardens) on children’s health and related outcomes, and b) the effects of the built environment (i.e., housing quality and neighborhood design) on health behaviors. Related to Sustainable Futures, Dr. Wells has also studied engagement of older adults in environmental volunteerism.

Rana Zadeh’s research is focused on evidence-based healthcare design, translating research into design and policies to achieve the best possible health, safety and efficiency outcomes. In terms of Health & Well-being, she is currently working on the development of non-pharmacological system solutions to improve quality of life and manage symptoms for patients with advanced and chronic illnesses, particularly in end-of-life, geriatric, and acute care settings. She is also working on economic benchmarking methods for healthcare facilities. Professor Zadeh is also working in the area of Sustainable Futures. Her lab conducts energy simulations and occupancy and expert feedback documentation to facilitate sustainability trends in healthcare environments.