Graduate Research in D+EA

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

Modeling functional health outcome and physical activity frequency in community-dwelling older adults using data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project

Adisa Soren (MS, Advisor: Dr. Rana Zadeh)

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. The study sought to examine the relationship between baseline morbidity status and five-year functional health status. In addition, the frequency in which older adults engaged in physical activity was explored as a potential mediator to this relationship. Lastly, physiological, social, and physical environment characteristics were evaluated in relation to physical activity frequency

Evaluating the impact of display medium (VR Head-mounted vs. Screen display) on perceived aesthetic value

Ethan Arnowitz (MS, Advisor: Dr. So-Yeon Yoon)

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

Exploring dimensions of nature in hospice design

Andrea Fronsman (MS, Advisor: Dr. Mardelle Shepley)

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

Post-occupancy evaluation of Fountain House: A study on an alternative healthcare facility

Kimia Erfani (MS, Advisor: Dr. Mardelle Shepley)

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.

Mitigating vigilance decrement: Evaluation of technological interventions

Sagar Akre (MS, Advisor: Dr. So-Yeon Yoon)

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.

Type and location of seating on pedestrian streets and influence on duration of stay

Stefana Scinta (MS, Advisor: Dr. Gary Evans)

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.

The role of Augmented Reality on spatial-temporal decision making in the context of complex indoor navigation

Serena Lee (MS, Advisor: Dr. So-Yeon Yoon)

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.

From Cubes to Collaboration: A Generational Divide in the Workplace

Megan Cackett (MS, Advisor: Dr. Ying Hua)

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.

Staff perceptions of the physical environment of the pediatric hematology and oncology unit at Montefiore

Samara Petigrow (MS, Advisor: Dr. Mardelle Shepley)

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

Introducing positive distraction to a clinic waiting room

Amber Qiwen Luo (MS, Advisor: Dr. Mardelle Shepley)

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.n


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