Design + Environmental Analysis offers three research-based graduate degrees: Master of Arts, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy.

The D+EA field requirements for master students introduces them to both design and human-environment relations fields, supported by faculty expertise in one or more of three main program areas: Design Strategy and Innovation, Sustainable Futures, and Health & Well-being.

The research tradition within the Human Behavior and Design doctoral program is based on the social sciences, in particular environmental psychology, human factors and ergonomics. The underlying premise is that systematic, empirical research based in the social sciences, when combined with an understanding of design processes, can contribute to the planning, design, and management of environments that enhance individual and organizational effectiveness. The program brings together faculty and students with expertise in the fields of interior, industrial and graphic design, architecture, art, design history, historic preservation, design with digital media, building technology, information science, environmental psychology, human factors and ergonomics, economics, and facility planning and management to work on problems related to the physical environment.

Recent Graduate Research

A secondary analysis was performed using cross-sectional and longitudinal data from a nationally representative, population-based survey study on factors related to older adult health and well-being. more info [Cornell library 10361384]

This study explored how portable communication devices, or screens, influence freshman students' transition to college, focusing on students' online vs. face-to-face interaction behavior, social environments, and physical attributes in dormitory dining halls. more info [Cornell library 9870399]

Factors influencing the adoption of sustainable building practices by stakeholders in building projects were explored through empirical data, to shed new light on the mechanism of achieving sustainable building practices. more info [Cornell library 9597037]

Focusing on influences of the built and natural environment on mental and physical health, three studies examined environmental attributes associated with mental and physical health within children's most proximate settings: homes, neighborhoods, and schools. more info [Cornell library 8267332]

This study aims to understand the impact of display medium on affective and cognitive perceptions within virtual environments, specifically focusing on perceived aesthetic value. The two display mediums used in this study include a stereoscopic head mounted display, i.e., HMD or VR goggles, and a 4K Ultra HD TV display. Using a 2 (display medium types) X 2 (displayed environments) within subject's design, this study was conducted in DUET lab experiment with 80 participants. more info [Cornell library 9906136]

A series of experiments tested the effects of different lighting characteristics on the fluency, originality, and elaboration of ideas to further explore the relationship among physical environment attributes and creative performance. more info [Cornell library 9154511]

This thesis explores features providing access to nature to residents, visitors, and staff members in residential hospice facilities. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with staff and volunteers at a residential hospice facility in Ithaca, NY to corroborate current nature-related design recommendations for hospice facilities. The results of these interviews were used to generate a survey aimed at assessing the importance of specific features facilitating access to nature, the differences in importance between various user groups (patient, staff, and visitors), and the effectiveness of existing hospice facilities in providing these design features. more info [Cornell library 10361405]

Heat dissipation is essential for the next generation’s electronic devices’ hardware design. A novel tablet-size heating surface was developed. A series of experiments were conducted to systematically investigate hands’ thermal sensation and comfort. more info [Cornell library 9597067]

This thesis describes a post-occupancy evaluation of the facilities of Fountain House, an alternative service program for individuals with mental and behavioral health diagnoses. The post-occupancy evaluation investigated the ways that spatial design of this community based mental health facility affected perceived behavioral and psychological outcomes among providers and consumers of care. Based on the primary goals and objectives for design and construction of all Clubhouses, this project tested whether the physical environment of Fountain House supports or inhibits: sense of dignity and respect for members and staff, a non-institutional image, and social interaction among members and staff. more info [Cornell library 9948912]

Vigilance Decrement is a phenomenon which occurs in semi-automated human-machine systems where human operators tasked with maintaining prolonged periods of sustained attention (vigilance) in the look out for critical signals. Previous research has indicated that people’s ability to detect these signals declines significantly as a function of their time on task, which may result in catastrophic disasters. The current study aims to mitigate this decrement by exploring various technological interventions which may serve to restore performance if used correctly. more info [Cornell library 10361446]

In designing for long-lasting outdoor activities, a space’s seating options and edge condition have been posited to have notable effects on staying behaviors. Although these principles resonate with many, they have received little careful and systematic evaluation. This study combined theories from prior informal observation regarding human preference regarding seating type and location and validated each with empirical evidence via a naturalistic observation study. more info [Cornell library 9906081]

This study aims to introduce a new Augmented Reality enabled wayfinding indoor navigation and examine how it affects people's performance and user experience when navigating a complex building. This study explores the effects of individual differences in wayfinding experiences shaped by culture and visual cognition styles. more info [Cornell library]

The purpose of office space has evolved. As the workforce transitions from the baby boomer to the millennial generation, companies are changing their approach to collaborative spaces for knowledge work. Yet, expectations of an ideal workplace differ between cohorts. This study investigates the behavior and perceptions regarding collaboration space held by employees at The Boeing Company. An effort is made to consider the larger organizational ecology. Methods include observations, interviews, and a survey. more info [Cornell library 10489437]

Healthcare environments are unique in that they serve as both spaces to treat patients and workplace environments for hospital staff. Staff are often overlooked in the design process even though they are critical stakeholders in these environments. This study sought to understand how hospital staff of the pediatric oncology unit at Montefiore perceive their physical working environment, and how these perceptions shape their workplace satisfaction and performance. Results will contribute to the forthcoming facility redesign. more info [Cornell library 10361586]

This study examines the impact of various types of positive distractions on perceived wait time, perception of wait time (whether actual and perceived wait time is the same, or over/under), perceived quality of care, and patient anxiety level. A quasi-experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis. In the experiment, three conditions were set up into a waiting room of a clinic, comprised of two positive distractions and a control. The results partly support the hypotheses. The perception of wait time was influenced by the interventions, and patient stress level was influenced by the perception of wait time. more info [Cornell library 9948856]

As cancer remains the leading disease-related cause of death in adolescence, healthcare officials must consider the influence of facility design on peer-to-peer social support and quality of life, while accounting for an adolescent’s unique and changing needs. Both the stress of treatment and the environment in which treatment occurs can influence adolescents during a time of significant social, biological, and cognitive transitions. This dissertation spans developmental psychology and health design to inform specific design guidelines to improve quality of care for adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer. more info [Cornell library 11050547]

Increased occupational sedentary behaviors are associated with elevated risks for musculoskeletal-discomfort, cardio-metabolic and cardio-vascular diseases, and pre-mature mortality. Use of sit-stand workstations reduces sitting-time, musculoskeletal-discomfort and fatigue, without impacting productivity. However, physical activity does not increase; there is absence of an optimum sit-stand ratio. This research investigated the potential of a sit-stand-walk intervention (SSWI) to reduce musculoskeletal-discomfort and fatigue, and increase physical activity, without impacting productivity in computer-based work. more info [Cornell library 11050179]

This study explores the state of waste and materials management in New York State by gathering and analyzing stakeholder perspectives on appropriate solid waste management. Participants were 21 individuals from county governments, private waste companies, and local community reuse organizations. Perspectives were primarily collected through an activity called conceptual content cognitive mapping (3CM), a quantitative and qualitative methodology that is based on cognitive mapping literature and allows for commonalities and differences in perspectives to be identified and analyzed. more info [Cornell library 11050634]

Background: As offices change and employees spend more of their lives at work, managers and designers need to understand the relationship between employees and their work environment to spend investment dollars wisely. This study investigated the efficacy of various physical workstation environment characteristics in a medical office building (MOB) using observation and employee survey responses. more info [Cornell library 11050685]

Overall, this project lays the groundwork for incorporation of additional software into dynamic greenhouse lighting systems. more info [Cornell library 11050510]

Background: Previous studies have examined the benefits of increased social interaction on improved quality of life and overall wellbeing among community-dwelling older adults. However, few studies explored effective environmental factors that could affect social interaction. Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify environmental factors that facilitate or hinder social interaction by elderly residents from their perspective. more info [Cornell library 11050644]

Home is a place where people spend more than half of the day and communicate regularly with important members of their social network. Thus, it is natural to examine whether housing quality has effects on human health. Many studies have reported a positive relation between housing quality and mental health, but most suffer from cross-sectional research designs and lack analysis of underlying mechanisms to account for the possible effects of housing quality. In this regard, the present study seeks to shed light on the association among housing problems, maternal mental health, and family conflict within the context of a longitudinal design. more info [Cornell library 11050467]

Objective: This study concerns the design and development of a hybrid support surface prototype, intended for the prevention and care of pressure ulcers, and its evaluation for stress and comfort experience among older adults. more info [Cornell library 11050606]

The world is becoming increasingly automated, with more tasks and decisions handled by robots and computers. Today, robots have a presence in decision-making fields like sports, healthcare, and education, but the technology is young and may not be trusted enough to replace a human completely. This study focuses on using this technology in sports, in particular soccer, where increasing popularity has placed increased pressure on referees to make accurate decisions. more info [Cornell library 11050455]

Objectives: This study is to identify the desired physical environment, amenities and spaces in multi-beds patient room in Pediatric Intensive Care Units that could support safe and speedy care delivery. Study Design: This qualitative and quantitative case study is to 1) improve efficiency for care delivery by design (e.g., minimize steps Registered Nurses [RNs] take in delivering care); and 2) minimize the risk of HAIs (e.g., reduce contact transmissions). more info [Cornell library 11050378]

With the development of technology, the workplace is adopting new mediums to engage in collaborative work with others. The quality of this collaboration varies by the technology medium being utilized (Daft & Lengel, 1986; Kock, 2005); The goal of this research is to study the difference in collaboration effectiveness for people in mixed (MR) and virtual reality (VR) environments. more info [Cornell library 11050331]

This study explored the impact of an immersive environment on a viewer's creativity, using Virtual Reality and Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs) as a potential, unexplored resource to cultivate new ideas. As these technologies become increasingly realistic, they offer a potentially cost-effective tool for companies to use to stimulate creative environments at the workplace. In order to appreciate if there is a difference from using an HMD, we need to look at the technology that is currently being used. The current study assessed user creativity viewing a nature scene either on a computer or within an HMD. more info [Cornell library 11050256]

“Patient-centered care” and “information technology” are both fast-growing trends in outpatient care delivery. Yet, studies on how to optimize the physical environments considering these fast-growing trends are scares. This study focuses on the design of the physical exam room environment to support patient-physician interactions and physician-computer interactions. more info [Cornell library 11050326]