D+EA’s faculty represent the disciplines of environmental psychology, human factors/ergonomics, interior design, and architecture. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, and drawing on approaches grounded in the social and biological sciences, the humanities, and design, D+EA faculty conduct research at the cutting edge of their areas of expertise.

Our goal is to expand the knowledge bank that forms the foundation of evidence-based design. For us research is more than just an exciting and rewarding personal activity. We want our research to make a difference: to improve people’s lives and the environment on which we all depend.

The research in D+EA can be organized around the following three primary research themes: Design Strategy & Innovation, Health & Well-Being, and Sustainable Futures, through independent studies and research assistantships. The University and College of Human Ecology also have scholarship programs dedicated to encourage and support undergraduate research. For example: Hunter R. Rawlings III Cornell Presidential Research Scholars and Cornell Cooperative Extension Summer Internship Program.

Recent Undergraduate Honors Theses

The purpose of this research was to test customer experience of automotive showroom designs using virtual reality. To investigate the impact, a 2x2 experiment with 18 participants was conducted using a three-dimensional (3D) virtual reality simulation. Participants were told that they were shopping for a new car and visiting different showrooms. Two stimuli were developed: a control condition, based on existing showroom design standards, and an experimental condition featuring biophilic, experiential retail design (BERD). Perceived restorative-ness, stress impact, brand experience, and purchase/re-visit intention were measured in follow-up surveys after each exposure.

In this study, it was hypothesized there is a difference between what is perceived as important in the physical environment of MBH facilities and what is currently available. The Psychiatric Patient Environmental Design (PPED) survey tool was used to test the hypothesis. The results suggested patients had varied perceptions of the quality and effectiveness of the physical environment. The PPED was found to be useful in defining the perceived differences within specific features such as attractive and comfortable furniture. Specifically, such features were found to be more effective than they were needed, whereas features like private bathrooms were less effectively implemented than it is important.

This thesis analyzes important design features in behavioral and mental healthcare settings by reviewing two facilities using opinions from both physicians and designers. The study aimed to decipher which design features are viewed as the most important for patient recovery and satisfaction. Designers of two facilities were contacted as well as physicians. therapists, and support staff who work at each facility. A survey was given to both designers and physicians that solicited opinions of design features in behavioral and mental health care facilities in general and relating to the facilities in this study in particular. The findings showed that designers focus more on how people interact with space, while staff members were concerned with how people interact with other people.