trees with orange leaves

We believe that research and teaching are intrinsically linked. The academic and creative knowledge generated by the College of Design is disseminated in a rich variety of forms, from books, articles, and conferences to buildings, landscapes, and exhibitions. The College of Design is also deeply committed to collaborative research.

Research Spotlights

In addition to faculty members conducting their own research, they contribute to a wide variety of group research activities that take place within centers, laboratories, institutes, and initiatives. A few of our research areas of interest are included below. You can learn more about research activities within the College of Design on each department's research page.

Wildfires & Resilience

Wildfires will continue to get worse due to climate change, says Landscape Architecture Professor Bart Johnson, so he wants to help build community resilience in the face of this threat. With a $1.6 million grant from National Science Foundation, Johnson is leading a team of investigators across four universities to explore how people and organizations in wildfire-prone lands can best adapt.

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Fauna-Forward Art

The interdisciplinary art exhibit Every Word Was Once an Animal grew out of Art Professor Carla Bengtson’s fascination with the intersection of art and biology. “I’ve long been interested in animal cognition and overlapping sensory worlds,” Bengtson says. In this exhibition, Bengtson examines the communication methods—scent and gesture—of the Western Fence Lizard via sculpture, olfactory installations, video, and collaborations with other artists.

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Women in mask with others in the subway
COVID-19 & Daily Life

COVID-19 is not only a public health issue, but also a shaper of environments and behavior. School of Planning, Public Policy and Management Professor Rebecca Lewis, with two interdisciplinary research teams, is investigating how the virus is shaping personal lifestyles, policy, and public transportation and infrastructure.

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Visual Culture & Myth

Associate Professor Joyce Cheng introduced the department’s first-ever survey course on visual culture, defined as any human artifact, ranging from weaponry and costumes to advertisements and Hello Kitty trinkets.In fact, Cheng recently published “The Rhetoric of Hello Kitty,” an article in the journal RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, that unpacks the cultural fallout over Sanrio’s 2014 announcement that Hello Kitty is not a cat, but a girl.

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