Texas Tech University

Improving Health and Well-being Through Design

Amanda Bowman

June 9, 2021

Lisa Lim received the Texas Tech Parents Association’s Hemphill-Wells New Professor Excellence in Teaching Award.

In March, the Texas Tech Parents Association announced the recipients of its 2021 faculty awards. We are highlighting the seven Texas Tech University faculty members who were recognized. 

When thinking of improving your health and well-being, things that immediately cross your mind might be watching your diet, exercising and getting out in the sun. But, the space you're occupying might also have an effect on your wellness.

Lisa Lim
Lisa Lim

At least that's what the research of Lisa Lim, an assistant professor of architecture in Texas Tech's College of Architecture, is trying to prove. People spent much more time indoors in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lim's research focuses on the relationship between built environments and their users to improve the user's health and well-being through design. And, she instructs her students to think critically on such issues.

Lim's passion for teaching and seeing her students thrive is one reason why she received the Texas Tech Parents Association's 2021 Hemphill-Wells New Professor Excellence in Teaching Award.

Can you describe your research and its impact, both in academics and society?

My scholarship centers on relationships between built environments, their users and resulting outcomes, with a primary goal of improving users' health and well-being through design. Throughout my research projects, I have put an emphasis on people. I have found that certain measurable spatial features can support students to study more efficiently, patients to be treated more effectively, employees to have a comfortable break for their well-being and team members to communicate more often. My research is expected to further both research and design practices, especially by integrating the two, with the primary goal of providing better built environments for users and society.

What projects are you working on at this time?

With a primary goal of providing healthy environments to the users, I am investigating design strategies that could improve college students' health and well-being through the design of college campuses. More than 70% of college students experience mental health crises while at college due to stress and anxiety. I plan to identify campus design strategies that can support the health and performance of college students. Another user group I'm interested in is the elderly population. I am investigating design strategies and policies that provide safer and sustainable living environments to residents of all ages and conditions. Lastly, I have focused my research on how clinic design can improve and support teamwork experiences of health care professionals and patients, and I am continuing this line of research to identify design strategies for reduced burnout and improved safety, especially during the pandemic.

What areas are you interested in for future research?

I plan to continue investigating design strategies for improving the health and well-being of diverse user groups, especially through multidisciplinary and international collaborations. I am particularly interested in integrating advanced technology and built environments to improve health and well-being of people through the design of buildings, communities, cities and even virtual environments.

What rewards do you get from teaching?

My primary goal as an educator is nurturing students to become leading architects who can contribute to society through design. I emphasize the importance of becoming a critical thinker, engaging in real-world issues in courses, and leveraging my research for teaching so students can learn how they can contribute to the lives of many users of built environments. Observing students learning their potential role and impact as designers in society is the biggest reward I get from teaching.

What motivated you to pursue a career in academia?

As I said, I am deeply interested in providing user-centered design that could improve the health and well-being of users, and I believe integrating research in design practice is one way of achieving this. I have decided to pursue a career in academia so I can accomplish my goal by furthering my research that can be implemented in design practice and also by nurturing the future designers who can and will implement research in their design practice.

How has Texas Tech helped you advance your research and teaching?

I would like to thank the support I have received from the university, the College of Architecture, my colleagues and the students. I have found great colleagues at Texas Tech who are willing to collaborate and have fruitful discussions. Also, I have learned a lot through my interactions with my students. And lastly, the support and encouragement I have received from the college and the university have greatly helped me advance my research and teaching.

Who has had the biggest impact on you and your career, and why?

Thankfully and fortunately, I have met great teachers in my life who helped me find the path I am passionate about. To start with, architect Sungkwan Lee was my undergraduate studio instructor and a long-term mentor who has guided me to develop my thoughts and interests into a career. Professor JP Choi has taught me that architecture can impact people's lives and contribute to society and helped me find my career path. Lastly, Professor Craig Zimring, who was my doctoral adviser and now a great colleague, friend and family, has shown me how designers and researchers can make a change in the world through design. They have made such a huge impact on my life, and I would like to be a teacher like them. They are my lifetime mentors who are still inspiring me to become a better teacher, researcher and designer.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

I am sincerely honored and grateful for this award. Credit for this award has to go to my family, friends, colleagues, teachers, students and God. I would not be the person I am today without their support and love. With a deep appreciation, I will continue putting my efforts into making the world a better place.