C2SMART Student Researcher Wins Outstanding Dissertation Award
C2SMART is proud to share that student researcher Zhengbo Zou’s dissertation, entitled “Towards Emotionally Intelligent Buildings: An Integrated Approach to Quantify Human Emotions in Designed Spaces” has received an Outstanding Dissertation Award from NYU in the urban studies category. The dissertation, which explores how to improve built environments by quantitatively understanding how architectural design features impact human emotional experiences.
The relationship between built environments and the people who inhabit them is a passion of Zou’s, whose work explores the intersection of neuroscience and architecture and impact of architectural design features on the human emotional experience.
“[The build environment] plays an essential role in our day-to-day lives since people spend more than 85% of their time indoors,” he says. But most studies around the relationship between architectural design and human experience have been qualitative, and after-the-fact; with his background in construction management and advanced visualization technologies like virtual reality, Zou sought to create a novel process which could generate quantitative, real-time feedback which could be used to help shape design decisions.
Zou’s dissertation sets out an alternative method to interviews and feedback forms: presenting design alternates as virtual environments and conducting experiments to gauge subjects’ physiological responses while navigating the VR.
At C2SMART, Zou worked on the Work Zone Safety: Behavioral Analysis with Integration of VR and Hardware in the Loop project with Associate Professor of Civil & Urban Engineering and Associate Director of C2SMART Semiha Ergan. The project used VR to study workers’ interactions with roadside units as well as connected vehicles, and their responses to notifications with the purpose of reducing incidents involving workers on urban street and on highways.
“Zhengbo is a stellar researcher and well deserves such a recognition,” said Professor Ergan. “His technical know-how and determination to do societally important work are all hallmarks of a true change-maker. I am sure we will hear great news about Zhengbo in years to come.”
Zou work has taken him to the University of British Columbia, where he has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor. We wish him all the best.