Interior Design

Luis Mejia-Puig

Luis Mejia-Puig

Department of Interior Design
Assistant Professor
(352) 294-1431
ARCH 136

Areas of Research

The idea of delineating curricular advances in design education practices guides my research. I am interested in exploring how new digital media tools can positively affect the design process. The design process is an excellent example of creative thinking used to solve wicked problems present in all Social Sciences. Since the 1960s, research has focused on how the design process unfolds and the influence that traditional design tools have in that process. Physical manipulations through sketching and model making are critical elements in moving the design process forward. However, new digital tools are displacing these practices, and current design students are shifting their approach. This shift opens a gap, and the way we teach design must adapt to this new reality. To address this gap, I have focused my research on cognitive load theory. Through the combination of psychometric and physiological tools, I can analyze cognitive demand and cognitive workload quantitatively. Moreover, this approach transcends the boundaries of the design discipline and opens opportunities for multidisciplinary research.

What I Teach

I believe learning is a never-ending process, and as individuals, we should continue to learn for our whole lives. Like learning, design activity is a never-ending process where a designer’s final idea will be the starting point for another design. In my class, students will develop design proposals through collaborative teamwork. This approach allows students to experience firsthand the iterative aspect of design, the relevance of team collaboration, and understand design solutions as live outcomes to reimagine repeatedly. My teaching expertise of more than fifteen years with undergraduate design students relies on studio techniques. I believe design students learn through direct manipulation and master-apprentice guidance. At UF, I intend to enlighten students through my studio courses and mixed reality digital tools. Moreover, I hope my expertise in product development and background as an industrial designer can give Interior Design students a different approach to the design process.

My Educational Background

Originally from Colombia, I am an Industrial Designer with a Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University in Design, Housing and Merchandising, and a master’s degree in Design and Product Development in Barcelona, Spain. I have broad teaching experience with undergraduate|graduate design students, and over ten of those years, I was Head for the Industrial Design Program at a Colombian university. To fulfill my education and widen my professional development, I have moved from Colombia in South America to Spain in Europe and now to the United States. I believe my international background has been critical to developing my aesthetic sensibility and multicultural understanding. Like any discipline with high symbolic and interpretative attributes, design discipline is about exploring perspectives and re-shaping the world.

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Roberto Rengel

Roberto Rengel

Department of Interior Design
Chair and Professor
ARCH 342

Professor Rengel holds a Master in Interior Architecture degree from the University of Oregon and a Master of Architecture from Tulane University. He has worked for some of the most influential Interior Architecture firms in the United States including Gensler in California, and ASD in Florida. He transitioned to academia and spent 23 years at the University of Wisconsin – Madison before joining the University of Florida as professor and chair of the Department of Interior Design.

Professor Rengel’s research has focused on architectural interior space as well as the interaction between interior and exterior spaces and the application of biophilic principles to the design of interior environments. He has published two books, Shaping Interior Space and The Interior Plan.

Most of Rengel’s studio teaching has been in upper level studios focused on the workplace, hospitality, and educational environments. At the graduate level, he has taught the course Placemaking, focused on the principles and processes of creating environments with a strong sense of place.


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Lisa Platt

Lisa Platt

Department of Interior Design, Florida Institute for Built Environment Resilience (FIBER)
Assistant Professor
ARCH 334

Savannah College of Art and Design, BA
Kansas State University, MS
State University of New York at Binghamton, Ph.D.

Areas of Focus:
Sustainability (Building Materials, Built Environment Resilience, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Health Sciences, Sustainable Public Policy, Sustainable Architecture and Design)
My research focuses on using Artificial Intelligence and dynamic modeling to evaluate scenarios for preventative designs that reduce risks to human health. This research includes how phenomena such as climate change, which is having a demonstrated effect on infectious conditions and disease epidemiology, impact community health infrastructure and health system resilience. This area of study’s primary purpose is to explore the potentials that predictive Systems Science and Engineering approaches have in informing reliable risk moderation and sustainable system optimization strategies for environmental planning paradigms successful in moderating outside design basis system hazards.

Dr. Lisa Platt is the Interior Design department faculty and research representative for the University of Florida’s College of Design Construction and Planning Florida Institute for Built Environment Resilience (FIBER). Her work in research, student mentoring, and teaching is driven by the concept of designing and building proactively adaptive and human-centered environmental systems. Her career in healthcare design and systems improvement analysis has been to discover ways thoughtfully applied translational research can elicit practical innovation for improving human and system resilience. Her experience as a licensed Interior Designer and operations systems analyst has allowed her to collaborate with quality, health, safety, and environment management teams in high-risk industries in the U.S. and internationally. She has also had the benefit of being able to work with health system patients, rehabilitation, and long-term care resident groups around the world seeking ways to use human-centered design for improving individual and population health, safety, and wellbeing.

Dr. Platt’s current research focus is on using Artificial Intelligence and Human Factors for integrating Prevention through Design in healthcare environments. The primary purpose of this study is to explore potentials that predictive Systems Science and Engineering approaches have in informing reliable risk moderation and resilience optimization strategies for environment of care planning paradigms successful in moderating outside design basis system hazards.

Dr. Platt currently teaches the undergraduate Interior Finishes and Materials course and the DCP Doctoral Core 4 seminar focusing on assisting Ph.D. students in dissertation research conceptualization, writing, and leveraging for employment opportunities. She is also currently in the process of developing a graduate-level course for using applied quantitative methods and machine learning for design research.

Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design, a Master of Science in Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Systems Science with a focus in Health Systems Engineering.

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Genesis Okken

Genesis Okken

Department of Interior Design
Instructional Assistant Professor
ARCH 346

Master of Interior Design, University of Florida
Bachelor of Interior Design, University of Florida

Genesis Okken, NCIDQ received both her Bachelor of Design and Master of Interior Design at the University of Florida. While completing her graduate work, she served as an editorial assistant for the Journal of Interior Design as well as gained design experience aSarah Cain Design.  She then went on to practice design at Walt Disney Imagineering and the Kessler Collection in Orlando, FL before returning to UF as a lecturer in the Department of Interior Design.    

Her research interests include exploring how design practitioners develop appropriate color designs across different market sectors and how color planning strategies evolve throughout an individuals’ career. Specifically, she has explored color planning and design within corporate office, healthcare, hospitality, residential and pop-up retail using qualitative methods. She also investigates how professional practice can inform better ways to incorporate critical color knowledge and understanding into design pedagogy.   

Genesis enjoys mentoring students through independent studies in color theory and undergraduate research projects as well as through her role as the faculty advisor for the UF ASID/IIDA student chapter.  She also has taught a wide spectrum of courses within the program including Design Innovation, Interior Design Communication Systems, Computer Applications for 3D Design, Professional Practice of Interior Design, Design Field Experience, Architectural Interiors II, and Advanced Architectural Interiors IIFor students in the summer program, she teaches Design Innovation and History of Interior Design I.  


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Erin Cunningham

Erin Cunningham

Department of Interior Design
Associate Professor
ARCH 344

Ph.D., College of Design Construction & Planning, University of Florida.
M.I.D., University of Manitoba
B.A., University of Victoria

Erin Cunningham’s research examines intersections between social justice and the interior environment. Her scholarship, published in both peer-reviewed articles and invited chapters, can be broken down into three main categories. The first examines the history and preservation of the interior environment. The second examines the development of social welfare priorities in interior design. The third, and newly emerging track, examines issues of health in the lived environment. Across these topics, Erin takes a social historical approach to the study of interiors, emphasizing issues of gender, race, and class.

One of Erin’s principal responsibilities at the University of Florida is to teach the History of Interior Design, which is a two-part required sequence. Since taking responsibility for these courses she has worked to break the strict lecture style of the course, engaging students in multiple formats, including lecture, class discussion, and digital humanities methods. Alongside her history courses, she teaches interior design studio at all levels, from sophomore to senior. These studios have touched on a range of topics, including hospitality, corporate design, and housing.

With a doctoral degree in Design, Construction in Planning, a certificate in historic preservation, a professional master’s degree in interior design, and a Bachelor of Arts, Erin’s educational background is diverse, and interdisciplinary. Prior to joining the Interior Design Department at the University of Florida, she was a faculty member in the Interior Architecture Program at the University of Oregon.


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Shabboo Valipoor

Shabboo Valipoor

Department of Interior Design
Associate Professor
ARCH 350

Ph.D., Environmental Design, Texas Tech University, TX, 2016
M.A., Art and Design, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia, 2012
B.A., Industrial Design, Art University of Tehran, Iran, 2002

Shabboo Valipoor, Ph.D., EDAC, is an associate professor of Interior Design at the College of Design, Construction and Planning. The focus of her research is on the impact of the built environment on human health and safety, particularly in the context of healthcare facilities and environments for aging and disabilities. She is currently working on projects that aim to (1) improve the quality of care in acute care settings by providing supportive environments for healthcare professionals and (2) minimize environmental risks to independent living for older adults with age-associated impairments. She has collaborated with scholars across disciplines on projects supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Science Foundation, Academy of Architecture for Health, and the American Society of Interior Designers. Her current teaching focuses on inclusive design in the built environment, healthcare design, and computer applications.

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Jason Meneely

Jason Meneely

Department of Interior Design
Associate Professor
ARCH 352

Master of Science, Interior Design, University of Kentucky, Lexington
Bachelor of Science, Interior Design, Radford University, Virginia

Jason Meneely is an Associate Professor in the Department of Interior Design at the University of Florida. He joined the department in 2006 from Cornell University where he worked as a researcher in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis. Meneely’s research examines strategies for maximizing creativity, human potential, and social engagement through the design of the built environment.  He also examines values-driven approaches to technology that support human-centered design processes.

In 2019 Meneely received a national Award for Excellence from the Council of Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) for developing innovative approaches that leveraged virtual-reality headsets to support inclusive design decisions for people with disabilities. He also received the 2012 Innovation in Education Award from CIDA and was recently honored with a UF Term Professorship (2018-2021). He and his collaborators have received a national Research Excellence Award from the Environmental Design Research Association (2018) and Best Presentation awards at the UB Tech (2013), and the Interior Design Educators Council (2004 and 2002) annual conferences. His research has been published in the Creativity Research Journal and the Journal of Interior Design.


  • The application of Virtual Reality to human-centered design issues
  • Design strategies for enhancing creative performance in individuals, teams, and organizations.
  • Using technology to support creative problem solving
  • Design thinking and pedagogy

Teaching Focus

  • Upper-Division Interior Design Studios (including education, corporate, retail, and hospitality markets).
  • Graduate Seminar in Creativity Research
  • Digital Design Communication Methods

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Nam-Kyu Park

Nam-Kyu Park

Department of Interior Design
Associate Professor
ARCH 354

Ph.D. Oklahoma State University
M.S. Oklahoma State University
B.S. Kon-Kuk University

Areas of Focus:
(Building Energy, Sustainable Architecture and Design)
The sustainability dimensions of my work are related to sustainability education and lifestyle practices.

Kyu Park is an Associate Professor in the Department of Interior Design. She is a LEED accredited professional and NCIDQ certified interior designer. Also, she possesses Evidence-based Design accreditation (EDAC), and a LC-Lighting Certificate. She teaches a broad range of coursework at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, from design studios focused on retail, hospitality, health care and office environments, to interior lighting design, building systems, interior design detailing, and graduate research seminars. Her research focuses on optimizing well-being, health, and human behavior through the design of the built environment. Theories of environment-behavior and social psychology thread together in her research program using a mixed methods research design. Her principle areas of research address the impact of lighting in interior environments and environmental design for special needs populations. She also examines cultural dimensions of the built environment defining environmental and social sustainability. The scholarship of Dr. Park and her students has been well presented internationally and nationally and has appeared in a variety of scholarly journals. Currently she is serving as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Interior Design. 

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Sheila Bosch

Sheila Bosch

Department of Interior Design
Associate Professor, Graduate Coordinator
(352) 294-1439
ARCH 348

Ph.D. Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. Sheila Bosch is an associate professor and graduate coordinator for the Department of Interior Design. For more than two decades, Sheila has been engaged in research exploring the relationships between environmental design and human well-being, primarily in healthcare and educational environments. Healthcare design research has investigated environments serving patients of all ages, from birth to the very end of life, including intensive care units, medical-surgical units, emergency departments, behavioral health units and skilled nursing facilities. In 2014, Sheila was honored to receive the national-level HCD10 top researcher award for her contributions to healthcare design research. Her current research focuses on how the design of healthcare spaces may help reduce stress and support mindfulness among healthcare workers. Research on learning environment design has included investigations in both K-12 and higher education environments, including an externally funded investigation of mixed-use learning environments at the university level. Sheila teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses, all of which include a research component. For undergraduates, she regularly team-teaches a senior design studio in which students develop innovative healthcare spaces, oftentimes working with design practitioners. Sheila also teaches both undergraduate and graduate level environment-behavior courses where students explore the complex relationships between the environment (built or natural) and the people who occupy those environments. Other graduate courses taught include Readings in Design Studies and Research Methods in Interior Design. Prior to UF, Sheila served as the Director of Research for Gresham Smith, a global design firm headquartered in the southeastern US. Having earned her PhD in 2004 from Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture, Sheila also hold an MS (life science, environmental toxicology) and a BS (science education), both from the University of Tennessee.

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Margaret Portillo

Margaret Portillo

Department of Interior Design
(352) 294-1406


In the College of Design, Construction and Planning, Margaret Portillo, Professor of Interior Design, is serving as Associate Dean for Research + Strategic Initiatives. As a researcher, she leverages mixed methods, to explore human-centered design innovation.  Recently, she was a co-recipient of an EDRA Research Excellence commendation on mixed-use learning zone spaces and typologies, a study, funded by ASID. This national award recognized the study’s translational significance and practice impact.  Currently, she is collaborating on a study examining design transformation within university library, part of a larger Association of College and Research Libraries initiative. Through books, articles, and essays as well as academic and industry-invited presentations, her work has been shared nationally and internationally.  Portillo also is committed to high impact scholarly service. For example, she chaired the CIDA standards development project that involved an extensive three-year process of exploring, evaluating, and testing societal influences that informed a major revision of international interior design accreditation standards.  Portillo served two as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Interior Design (2006-2015), published under the auspices of IDEC, successfully moving to a quarterly publication schedule and a revisioning of the journal’s focus, reach, and readership that appreciably elevated the journal’s ranking.

In addition to advising MID and PhD students, Portillo developed a course on design innovation and also has taught applied color theory and environment and behavior at the undergraduate level.  Portillo also created a graduate seminars on creativity seminar and has taught research methods.  She regularly participates in studio reviews and gives guest lectures. Representing design education, IIDA invited her to jury for the IIDA MidAmerica and InWards competitions, in Kansas City and Seattle respectively.


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