Research Team


Executive Director

Dr. Upali Nanda is a published author, speaker and researcher with extensive experience in designing, spearheading and implementing research projects in design practice. She has a PhD from the Department of Architecture at Texas A&M University, with a certificate in Health Systems and Design. Her research focuses on the impact of design on human health and perception. She has presented her research at numerous healthcare and design conferences and has published in both architectural and medical peer-reviewed journals. In 2015 she was selected in the researcher category of the HCD 10 rankings by Healthcare Design Magazine that  honors a group of individuals and organizations that made a significant mark on the healthcare design landscape over the past year.

Prior to joining HKS Dr. Nanda was a Research Consultant for The Center for Health providing support for the Center’s research, education and advocacy initiatives. Dr. Nanda was also responsible for establishing and leading the research unit at American Art Resources, the first unit of its kind in the country. Today, Upali serves as a member of the EDAC Advisory Board, the ANFA Advisory Board, AIA-AAH committee, the editorial board for the HERD journal, and the editorial board for the Journal of Hospital Administration. Her doctoral work on a crossmodal approach to sensory design has been published as a book “Sensthetics”. Her research has resulted in more than a 100 publications, invited talks, and peer-reviewed conference presentations in addition to numerous web-based and in-person presentations for CEUs.


Giyoung park, ph.d., aia, leed ap bd+c

Dr. Giyoung Park is an environmental psychologist and registered architect focused on built environment, interpersonal interaction, communication technologies and human well-being.  She holds a Ph.D. degree in Human Behavior and Design and an M.S. in Environmental Psychology from Cornell University (minors: cognitive science, city and regional planning, and hospitality planning and management); and earned an M.Arch. degree from the University of Michigan.  Her doctoral research, Eating (alone) with Face book: Millennials’ transition college, explored the interplay among physical, social and ambient environments as well as individual factors on social capital building in the digital era.  Within the same dissertation project, Giyoung also proposes an ecological framework, expanding Uri Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model, in order to incorporate mobile communication gadgets and platforms as a new type of environment.  She has conducted both qualitative and quantitative research methods including focus groups, interviews, online ethnography, virtual environment, experiments, structured and unstructured field observations, and surveys.  While in graduate school at Cornell, Giyoung participated in Cornell Dining’s campus dining master plan and developed a time-sample method visualizing where potential customers would be located on campus.  Prior to Cornell, she practiced architecture and interior design at HOK and SmithGroup in San Francisco, CA, primarily working on aviation and healthcare projects.  



Melissa Hoelting is an information designer with experience in project management and coordination as well as architectural design.  Her work aims to bridge research and practice through communication of ideas, education,  and strategy. She has a Bachelor's of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology with a certificate in leadership studies.

Prior to joining HKS, she was a designer and manager at Scalar Architecture in New York City and a Project Coordinator at the Center for Research and Service at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.



Jonathan M. Essary is a design researcher and computational designer. A CSI Scholarship awardee, he received his M. Arch I degree from the University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture. There, he was a graduate research assistant to the interim director working on architectural design research of Ultra-High-Performance-Fiber-Reinforced-Concrete in a façade application. He presented this work at the Façade Tectonics International Congress in 2016. Additionally, he helped further develop the digital fabrication lab at UTA, gaining experience in additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping, CNC machining, casting techniques, and other digital-model to physical-form fabrication methods. He also assisted with computational courses during his graduate years at UTA. His technical background includes computational simulation, modeling, and parametric design in Rhino and Grasshopper. He views architecture beyond the form of a building or structure, rather architecture is the habitat we develop and construct for ourselves to act in the way we desire as a species with a planetary scale of effectiveness. There are many ways this habitat manifests and those manifestations can be very good or very bad. He provides many skills to investigate the realm of human experience, cognitive perspectives, technology, and fabrication methods testing design elements to inform the appropriate design considerations for how and what we create.

Erin Peavey-2-copy.jpg

Erin peavey, EDAC, LEED AP BD+c

Erin Peavey is trained as an architect and design researcher, and has spent her career bridging the gap between research and practice. In her role at HKS, she sits at the intersection of design, operations and research. She works with clients to explore best practices and define the best fit for their operational and facility needs. Prior to joining HKS, she was a senior researcher and medical planner at HOK, working closely with clients on planning and design for a range of large- and small-scale projects and a Research Consultant with the Center for Health Design and Georgia Institute of Technologies' SimTigrate Lab. She is the research chair and a trustee for the Academy of Architecture for Health Foundation and was recognized in Healthcare Design’s Best Under 40 by the Academy of Architecture for Health. She is active in giving back to the healthcare design community as a speaker, mentor, teacher and board member. Peavey’s areas of study include the built environment’s impact on teamwork and collaborative practice, population health, ambulatory clinic design and methods for practice-based research integration.



Angela Ramer

Angela is design anthropologist bringing together research, design and strategy for both HKS client and CADRE projects. Her training as an anthropologist provides a holistic, ethnographic approach triangulating data: immersive, on-site collection, online surveys, analytics and visualization to directly inform design decisions. Angela received her MSc of Applied Anthropology from The University of North Texas with a concentration in the fields of business, technology and design. Her current work at HKS spans industries to include business and program performance strategy, corporate office and headquarters design, campus planning, quantitative work flow evaluation, qualitative assessment of educational environments, as well as experience-based design planning for community spaces.

Angela is an active member of the American Anthropological Association, as well as several applied/practicing anthropology organizations, publishing and presenting insights from her work annually. Her previous work includes research positions at Gensler and the National Institutes of Health.



Sipra Pati, MA

Sipra Pati is a Human Geographer who graduated from the University of Georgia, Athens. She provides literature, methodology, and analytical support to the research endeavors and studies conducted by HKS and CADRE. Her core area of interest is in understanding the impacts of the attributes of inhabited spaces on the psychological and behavioral health of occupants. Her graduate work examined the associations between spatial attributes of inhabited spaces and the varying conceptualization of space as a physical entity on domestic violence. Her past research includes inhabitants’ perceptions of space and employee behavior in industrial workplaces. Her work in the context of healthcare design draws on her understanding of these critical relationships.

previous team members