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Eugenia Victoria Ellis and engineering students work on community projects related to design and public health

February 23, 2015

Eugenia Victoria Ellis, PhD, AIA, Associate Professor in both the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering Department and the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, is a member of Drexel’s Urban Design & Health team which is one of the eleven inaugural members of the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) Design and Health Research Consortium.  This consortium will allow AIA to support top research teams who aim to answer various questions about the relationship between public health and design within targeted community projects. In addition to Ellis, members of this team are from The School of Public Health: Yvonne L. Michael, ScD (co-lead of the team), Amy Auchincloss, PhD, Amy Carroll-Scott, PhD, and the School’s dean Ana Diez Roux, MD, PhD; and from the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design: Debra Ruben (co-lead of the team), Diana Nicholas, Jon P. Coddington, and Harris Steinberg.  More information about this Consortium can be found in this DrexelNow article.

One of Ellis’ projects that brings together design and public health is for local nonprofit Jayden’s Voice.  Architectural Engineering senior design students have partnered with Jayden’s Voice CEO Terri Matthews to develop a state-of-the-art multi-use clinical, treatment, and resource facility to serve individuals and families impacted by autism. The students evaluated several existing building sites for renovation. They prepared a space needs and site analysis, a building systems survey, and feasibility study with development costs for each site under consideration. A vacant site in Mantua is under consideration for this community autism center.  These students are now developing plans for an energy-efficient prototype facility that could be replicated for other urban sites around the country. Engineering students involved in this project are Dmitriy Voznyak (Architectural), Anthony Yau (Architectural), Justin Hileman (Architectural), Soichiro Minami (Architectural), and Raeli Savitt (Electrical).

Ellis is also working with her research laboratory dLUX, to install a solar-day mimicking LED lighting system for the twenty-five bed dormitory of Project HOME’s St. Columba safe haven residence for men.  Research has shown that natural daylight controls the body’s circadian rhythms and affects overall wellbeing.  LED Solid State Lighting is more energy-efficient and longer lasting with lower lifecycle costs than other light sources.  The dLUX group is installing a fully programmed, automatic integrated LED lighting system that simulates the optimal color and intensity of natural daylight throughout the day to regulate these men’s circadian systems. In lieu of complete darkness at night, lighting will dim to the red spectrum to provide night lighting as needed with the goal to prevent disrupted sleep patterns and the negative behaviors associated with sleep deprivation.  In addition to Ellis, the dLUX team includes Donald McEachron, PhD (Biomed) and electrical engineering student Greg Yeutter.

These projects managed by Ellis are two of the many multidisciplinary efforts that Drexel faculty and students partake in as an effort to benefit local communities.