As a registered architect, fine artist and certified interior designer; Dee researches, designs, and advocates for services and strategies to bring health and the security of living spaces to people in urban environments. By doing this, she strives to bring wellbeing and security to urban dwellers and inhabitants of all income levels. As urban populations continue to grow at unprecedented rates, these environments become the front line in many of the complex problems humanity faces. Based on her background and expertise, her research work is focused through two interconnected areas:
1. Design and Design Thinking: Inter-professional creative collaborations with health and STEM researchers, includes mentorship of novice designers, prioritizing designing, ideating, and advocating for change.
2. Focusing on home as a base for urban families: defining conceptions of home, and developing solutions within urban substandard housing and housing insecurity issues in the US.
In 2013 Dee established Integral Living Research (ILR), an umbrella Lab that houses her research on housing and the scholarship on process and inter-professional teaching . The impetus for the ILR Lab is her transdisciplinary collaborative research practice that focuses on human health in the urban environment, while at the same time, training students across disciplinary boundaries to use qualitative design research processes and experimentation in working towards socially responsive change. The ILR umbrella connects scholarship, teaching and service through mentorship of students in the Master of Science in Design Research program, the undergraduate Custom Designed Major program and the undergraduate STAR Scholars summer research mentorship program. Through coursework, advocacy, and events, Dee positions student teams, communities and collaborators within carefully considered research processes for people to create change in our urban environment. Dee believes that informed design and trans-disciplinary collaboration are at the heart of novel advances and improvements in the built environment, and instructs Graduate Design Research and Interior Architecture and Design Students as well as mentoring and interfacing with students across the university. Dee is the director of the MS Design Research program, and holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University. She then received an MFA from the University of the Arts and is a registered architect, an NCIDQ certificate holder and LEED Green Associate. In summer 2017 she became a doctoral student at Antioch University under the topic of equity and change in design education. For almost ten years, she ran a solo practice in Philadelphia executing residential interiors, experimental materials reuse, storefront revitalization, space planning and adaptive interior nonprofit reuse and also holds a certificate in Health and Design from Cornell University. Current funded research includes a Health and Design Research project with Dr. Yvonne Michael, that focuses on Housing insecurity in the Urban environment. She is also a founder with Dr. Shivanthi Anandan of Garden Fresh Home, a group that examines food production in the urban environment.
Dee has exhibited widely and taught architecture and interior design for 21 years at various schools including Temple University, Drexel University, and Philadelphia University. An invited critic at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Tennessee Knoxville, University of the Arts and Gallaudet University, she has presented research works at both national and international conferences and locally at the ExCITe center, The Philadelphia Innovation Center, and the Enterprise Center. Most recently, she presented digitally in Gold Coast, Australia as one of the top 10 digital presentations at SDEWES. Her work has been published and exhibited in a variety of national and internationals academic and professional journals including The Plan Journal, The Design Journal, ARCH IN-Form, Context, and conference proceedings for DRS, CUMULUS, EAD, EDRA, ARCC and ACSA. Dee is also a member of The Design Research Society.
Bachelor of Architecture with Design Honors Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh PA Master of Fine Arts: Studio Arts Program University of the Arts, Philadelphia PA Health Facilities Design Certificate Cornell University, Ithaca, NY: Current PhD Student: Projected Completion 2021 Antioch University: School of Leadership and Change
Selected Peer Reviewed (Refereed) Scholarly Journal Articles:
2019 ^Nicholas, D., (2018). Material Home: Novel interventions in the urban abode. Adaptive Intervention| International Journal of Interior Architecture + Spatial Design, 118-121. http://www.iijournal.org/volumes/
2019 ^Stein, S., Nicholas, D., Michael, Y., Nguyen, T., & Giordano, K. (2019). Integrating practical and epistemic actors: Co-constructing a knowledge organization system to address housing insecurity in West Philadelphia. Journal of advances in classification research online, 29(1), 30–34. https://doi.org/10.7152/acro.v29i1.15465
2018 ^Michael, Y., Nicholas, D. (2018). Designing with dignity: Health and design research for underserved communities. The Plan Journal: Designing for impact Spring 2018, 303-317. doi 10.15274/tpj.2016.01.02.06 http://www.theplanjournal.com/article/designing-dignity-health-and-design-research-underserved-communities
2017 ^Nicholas, D., Townsend, K., & Michael, Y. (2017). Designing with dignity: Social determinants of health and design research. The Design Journal, 20(sup1), S2238–S2246. https://doi.org/10.1080/14606925.2017.1352740
Selected Published Conference Proceedings:
Peer Reviewed (Refereed) Conference Papers
2020 ^Nicholas, D., Michael, Y., Anandan, S. (2020). Integral Living Research: Synergies in research, advocacy, and healthy living. Design Research Society (DRS): Synergies Brisbane 2020 https://doi.org/10.21606/drs.2020.274
2020-21 ^Nicholas, D. (2020). Roma 2021: Cumulus Design Cultures. https://cumulusroma2020.org/ (postponed to May 2021 due to the Covid Crisis; abstract accepted; paper under final review projected final acceptance date May 30)
2020 ^Nicholas, D., Anandan, S. (2020). Garden fresh home: Sustainable food production for urban families. Sustainable Development of Energy Water and Environment Systems (SDEWES): First Asia Pacific conference proceedings, 009201-009209. https://www.goldcoast2020.sdewes.org/ (DOI and Journal forthcoming)
Top 10 most viewed conference digital presentation, conference moved online due to COVID 19 Travel Ban presented by DS Nicholas
2019 ^Nicholas, D., Stein, S., Giordano, K., Nguyen, T., and Michael, Y. (2019). Map the gap: Iteratively bridging theory and practice to address housing insecurity in the urban environment. Architecture Research Centers Consortium(ARCC): Praxis 2019, conference proceedings, 276-287. https://www.arcc-journal.org/index.php/repository/issue/view/27
In-person presentation, Toronto by DS Nicholas
2018 Nicholas, D., Stein, S., Nguyen, T., Krespan, E., Tracy, D., & Michael, Y. (2018). Health design research innovation project. Happiness Architectural Research for a Global Community | Temple University, Jefferson University and Drexel University, conference proceedings, Vol. 1, 256–264. http://www.arcc-arch.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/2018-Proceedings-Volume-1_UDL-1.pdf In-person presentation, Philadelphia by DS Nicholas
2018 Nicholas, D., Stein, S., Nguyen, T., Krespan, E., Tracy, D., & Michael, Y. (2018). Health design research and housing insecurity: Design, dignity, and community. Social equity by design, designing through community: Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) 49, conference proceedings, 148-150. https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.edra.org/resource/collection/01EE5570-8A84-4B82-92B4-D8066ABF9E15/EDRA49-Proceedings-forWebsite.pdf
In-person presentation, Brooklyn by DS Nicholas
2017 ^Nicholas, D., Anandan, S. (2020). Integrated space: The novel design research experience. Envisioning architecture, space/time/meaning: Proceedings of the 13th European Architectural Envisioning (EAE) conference. https://eaeanet.wixsite.com/eaea/conferences
In-person presentation, Scotland Dr. S. Anandan
2017 ^Nicholas, D., Townsend, K., Michael, Y. (2017). Design research and Social determinants of design and health research. What is design for the next?, and what is the 'next' focus of design? European Academy of Design (EAD): Rome 2017, S2238. https://doi.org/10.1080/14606925.2017.1355614
In-person presentation, Rome by DS Nicholas
2017 ^Nicholas, D., Krespan, E., & Anandan, S. (2017). Mind as a thing, REDO_ing the iterative in design education. REDO Cumulus Conference Proceedings, 99–106 https://www.designskolenkolding.dk/en/publications/redo-cumulus-conference-proceedings
In-person presentation, Kolding by DS Nicholas
2017 ^Nicholas, D., Anandan, S. (2017). The novel design research lab experience: Teaching and trans-disciplinary mentorship for 21st-century. 11th International Technology, Education and Development (INTED) conference proceedings, 9467-9473. doi: 10.21125/inted.2017
Remote Presentation by DS Nicholas
2017 ^Nicholas, D., McClendon, A., Martin, K., Ruben, D. (2017). Design research and the academy: Research driven community facing work. Chakrabarti, A., & Chakrabarti, D. (2017). Research into design for communities: Volume 2, proceedings of ICoRD 2017. 999-1006. DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-3518-0
Remote Presentation by DS Nicholas
2016 ^Nicholas D., Anandan, S. (2016). Reconceiving urban space making through design research: Novel approaches in urban sustainable living. 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (ICERI) 2317-2323. DOI 10.21125/iceri.2016
In-person presentation, Sevilla by DS Nicholas /Anandan
2016 ^Nicholas, D., Truoncgao, R., Char, W., Anandan, S., (2016). Urban biophilic environments: A novel lexicon for trans disciplinary practice. Architectural research addressing societal challenges: Volume 1proceedings of the EAAE ARCC, 10th international conference, 67-73. https://doi.org/10.1201/9781315116068
In-person presentation Lisbon by DS Nicholas /Anandan
Selected Invited Speaking and Invited Panel Participation:
2020 ^Invited Keynote Speaker: D.S. Nicholas – “Connecting Healers and Makers ”Tactics for lasting collaboration; Faimer Health Matters FAIMER partners with CraftNOW to present Global Health Matters Forum -- Each year, the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) hosts a morning of presentations and interactive dialogue on a topic related to health and well-being. This year on March 25, 2020, a cross-section of Philadelphia’s maker community joined health professionals and educators from across the globe.
2020 Invited Speaker
Bio-Design Substrates: URBN STEAMlab: Discussion of gallery installation and Lab processes in growing Bio-mix
Gallery Opening Design and Science, February 2020: Esther Klein Gallery, University City
2019 ^Invited Keynote Speaker Diana Nicholas: 2019 ST Global Conference, Washington DC; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Washington, DC. D.S. Nicholas will presented her work, Integral Living Research whose mission is to help remove living stress for urban families in need and create tools that can function as a bridge to improved health in urban conditions. Professor Nicholas also spoke on the Design Research Methods she teaches and deploys in her research work, Integral Living Research, and the MS Design Research Program at Drexel University. The audience participated in a short workshop in understanding the context and relationship between their work and human centered design. The goal was for Audience members to come away with a sense of the research context and possible tools to expand their reach with their research.
^International Event or Outlet
Applied Research Intellectual Property Patent Pending:
2019 Garden Fresh Home with Professor Shivanthi Anandan; a trans-disciplinary project exploring urban sustainability through science and informed design. Patent pending as of Summer 2019 for In home Hydroponic Unit both free standing and countertop patent includes organic bio-mix and self-contained modular “Smart-vase”.
2019 National Science Foundation I-CORPS Local Participants: Team Project lead two-week project and translational development of Project selected based on development
Research Driven Creative Works: Books and Catalogs
2019 and 2020
Atzmon, Leslie. Design and Science Exhibition Catalogue (2019). Eastern Michigan University Gallery. Diana Nicholas and Shivanthi Anandan Bio designed Substrates Pp. 36-38; Issuu website: https://issuu.com/leslieatzmon/docs/issuu_d_and_s_catalogue_
Companion to Traveling Exhibit Science and Design listed above
Creative Book Project
Nicholas, D., Fox, V. (2019). HOME 2 | a lifelong, dreamed of, home. (Published by Drexel Writers Room) https://issuu.com/pnw27/docs/home_book_2_for_issuu
Part of my work on health, home and self-efficacy: HOME Book is a limited-edition boxed set of the creative and critical work generated throughout Writers Room's 2018-2019 HOME: Affordable Housing + Cooperative Living Symposium, a series of public talks with invited lecturers incorporating discussion, group activities, and writing workshops. The series put experts on gentrification—both scholars and local civic leaders—and its related economic and social impacts into conversations with the residents and students affected by this ongoing
Research Driven Creative Works: Exhibits
2019 and 2020
Design and Science, September 2019 University Gallery, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA.; Design and Science, February 2020 Esther Klein Science Center Gallery, Philadelphia PA, USA.
Piece Title: “Garden Fresh Home: Bio-Design Substrates” D.S. Nicholas, Shivanthi Anandan.
This exhibition featured projects that connect design and science through visual bio-design or biomimicry, including work that reconfigures design to include science or that transforms design in response to scientific or medical contexts.
International roster of curated artists, scientists and researchers including: Richard Feynman, Edward Tufte and The estate of Charles Darwin. Exhibit curated by Professor Leslie Atzmon, Eastern Michigan University.
Da Vinci Arts Alliance: Rocky (RE) Runs, Davinci Arts Alliance, Philadelphia, Pa USA.
Invited to participant, piece title: “Adrian’s Run”. This was a technology based installation on female domestic space produced with assistance from MS design research student Nicholas St. Angelo. Curated Exhibit including Jon Pron, Andrew Hart and others
2016 Health Facilities Design Certificate: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY: Certificate in management and implementation of hospital initiatives through design oriented processes. Included management and built environment frameworks, and economic management training.