In January 2015, Dr. Anjali Joseph was appointed as the first Endowed Chair in Architecture + Health Design and Research at Clemson University. Joseph’s research focuses on looking at the relationship between architecture and health and how the design of the environment impacts our health and well-being.

This position is funded through the Commission of Higher Education’s SmartState Program and a significant gift from Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. “This gift from the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System demonstrates the high level of commitment to research in the health care built environment in South Carolina,” she said. “Often in my field, building connections with health care organizations to work with is a challenge.”

In addition to her endowed chair, Joseph serves as director of the Center for Health Facilities Design and Testing located in Clemson’s Lee Hall. The Center uses a multidisciplinary approach to studying health care environments and designing solutions to address key problems. As director, Joseph has utilized this gift to bring in students to help her with her research. “The funding has made it possible for me to set up the infrastructure I need to be successful such as hire a post-doctoral student and program coordinator as well as recruit strong Ph.D. students,” she said.

Assisting Joseph with research provides these students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience leading them to feel valued and part of the bigger picture. “They’re feeling like they’re part of the conversation on campus about the role of Clemson in health research, and because I’m tied into many of those things, I make sure they’re tied into what’s happening. I think that will help them move forward in terms of building networks in Clemson, in South Carolina and in the health industry,” she said.

Joseph and her team are currently working on the design of operating room environments. “This is probably one of the most critical and risk-prone areas in health care when both patients and staff are at high risk for injury,” she said. The team has spent a significant amount of time in operating rooms observing procedures as well as watching videos of various procedures and will spend the next few years designing various solutions and building prototypes until they come up with a solution that can be implemented into the operating room.

Thanks to the Commission of Higher Education’s SmartState Program and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, Joseph has been able to take her research to the next level. “This position has opened so many doors for me. It’s amazing being able to do the research that I’m doing, and working with smart people on campus and in the state of South Carolina means a lot to me. I really appreciate that,” she said.