PhD, EDAC, professor, Spartanburg Regional Health System Endowed Chair in Architecture + Health Design, and director, Center for Health Facilities Design and Testing, Clemson University (Clemson, S.C.)

Mission statement: “Our environment has great capacity to heal and uplift, especially when we are at our weakest and most vulnerable. My personal mission is to contribute to physical, psychological, and emotional health of all people through rigorous and meaningful research that leads to innovation in the design of the built environment.”

Who she is: Joseph’s career is dedicated to both research and education. In her current roles at Clemson, she teaches in the graduate program while leading research projects focused on design solutions that improve the safety and well-being of patients, staff, and families. Prior to joining the university in 2015, she was director of research for nine years at The Center for Health Design.

Year in review: As the principal investigator of a multiyear federally funded patient safety learning lab, “Realizing Improved Patient Care through Human Centered Design in the OR” (RIPCHD.OR), Joseph led a multidisciplinary team of researchers and clinical specialists from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Health Sciences South Carolina, as well as faculty and students from Clemson’s Architecture + Health graduate program, to address the gap in research on OR design and outcomes. Backed by a $4 million grant, she oversaw literature reviews, structured observations and analysis of videotaped surgical procedures, and worked with students in the design development of an OR prototype, which MUSC’s surgical team is now using to enact different surgical scenarios. These efforts were followed by the unveiling in January of a high-fidelity OR prototype at the Clemson Design Center, where testing of layout and design features is underway using patient simulators and software.

Industry impact: Joseph’s work is transformative for the industry, as she seeks to close the gap in research on OR design and patient and staff safety—particularly in outpatient surgery centers. The knowledge and research that’s been developed as part of the lab has resulted in seven peer-reviewed papers, a tool kit, and several national and international presentations. She’s also teaming up with the Facility Guidelines Institute and other organizations to drive evidence-based changes to guidelines and standards to improve operating room safety and efficiency. By involving faculty and students in her research, she’s also shaping the next generation of designers and researchers by allowing them to make contributions and work on topics that are highly relevant and critical to advancing the field. While still in progress, the project has already received national attention, including being featured in the Wall Street Journal and at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The project also received The Center for Health Design’s Gold Level EBD Touchstone Award and the Healthcare Environments Award in the conceptual design category at the 2017 Healthcare Design Expo & Conference.

What’s next: As her work on RIPCHD.OR enters its final year, Joseph will focus on conducting scenario-based assessments of the OR prototype as well as post-occupancy evaluations of the new ORs at MUSC’s new ambulatory surgery center. She’ll also be developing a web-based OR design tool kit based on the lab and sharing the findings of her research through various venues, all while supporting two of her doctoral students as they near the finish line with their dissertations.