PhD in Design, Environment and the Arts

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PhD in Design, Environment and the Arts

The PhD in Design, Environment and the Arts Program in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts strongly believes in the benefits derived from an interdisciplinary experience while at ASU. Consequently, the PhD Program developed several academic connections with other programs at the university. Such connections provide our PhD students with enviable opportunities for interdisciplinary studies and research. For example, many courses offered in these programs are both relevant and available to PhD students. Furthermore, faculty members from these other programs can participate as members of a student's dissertation committee, although they cannot serve as chairs.

PhD interdisciplinary experience opportunities

The Design School

The Design School brings together the expertise of architecture, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, urban design, visual communication design and environmental science. We create knowledge and design futures through the synthesis and collaboration of these fields of study. The school’s collaborative structure fosters innovation through the integration of expertise among academic units, university-based research and practitioners. As part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (and the larger ASU community), the school educates designers and fosters research in all scales of the built environment: local, regional, national and international.

School of Art

The School of Art is the leading institution for the instruction of art in metropolitan Phoenix and central Arizona. Encompassing a breadth of disciplines and a comprehensive range of instruction in the studio arts, the academic fields of art education and art history, as well as museum studies, the School of Art proudly maintains its place as one of the largest schools of public instruction in the arts and embraces nationally ranked programs.

School of Arts, Media and Engineering

The School of Arts, Media + Engineering is an interdisciplinary fusion of three disciplines with a focus on researching the integration of the human physical experience with computation and digital media through. As articulated on the School of Arts, Media + Engineering website, the research in this field is undertaken by way of:

  • Integrated sensing of physical and digital human activity

  • Extracting meaning from hybrid physical-digital human activity

  • Sensitization through meaningful digital feedback

  • Emergence of new knowledge

  • Preparing experiential media specialists across the arts, sciences and engineering

Department of Applied Biological Sciences

The Department of Applied Biological Sciences offers its PhD through the PhD Program in Design, Environment and the Arts in the Herberger Institute. Consequently, the two academic units are closely interconnected. For example, PhD students in the Department adhere to the same curriculum as all PhD students in the PhD Program.

The Department of Applied Biological Sciences is located on the Polytechnic campus. It has established a reputation as a unit that offers "rigorous and practical programs in applications of the biological sciences. Consistent with our polytechnic vision, our programs involve extensive student interaction with the faculty through experience-based learning activities including laboratories, field trips, internships and faculty-guided research and service-learning projects." Areas of research interest include wildlife biology, wildlife and restoration ecology, urban horticulture and environmental biotechnology.

School of Human Evolution and Social Change

The School of Human Evolution and Social Change (formerly the Department of Anthropology) is well positioned to provide an academic connection with the PhD Program in Design, Environment and the Arts. Several of its core research themes – Societies and their Natural Environments; Culture, Heritage and Identity; Urban Societies; and Global Dynamics and Regional Interactions – are particularly well suited for PhD students in Design, Environment and the Arts.

Similar to the other academic connections, PhD students in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts can enroll in courses in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change as well as avail themselves of the expertise of faculty by having them sit on their dissertation committees.

School of Sustainability

The School of Sustainability has several very explicit goals in its academic mandate. Together with the Global Institute of Sustainability, it engages students in new academic and research programs that embody:

  • Collaborative Learning

  • Transdisciplinary Approaches

  • Problem-Oriented Training

At present, PhD students in Design, Environment and the Arts can engage with the School of Sustainability in two ways. First, they can enroll in graduate-level courses offered by the School. Second, faculty members of the School can serve on a student's dissertation committee.

It is important to note that several faculty members in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts have joint appointments with the School of Sustainability.

The College of Nursing and Health Innovation

The mission of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation complements the PhD in Design, Environment and the Arts because it, too, is focused on conducting "cutting-edge research that positively impacts healthcare and patient outcomes across the life span as well as strengthens the knowledge base of the discipline to benefit the health of individuals, groups and communities." To that end, the two programs effectively support each other by way of the concentration in Healthcare and Healing Environments, which is a joint program between both academic units. Consequently, faculty and courses from both the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts become part of a shared academic and research experience.

What to expect during the PhD program?

Transfer credit

Students may transfer a blanket of 30 credit hours in from their previous master's degree.  Transfer credit taken before admission to a graduate degree program is non-degree credit; up to 12 credit hours can be applied towards the doctoral degree. Additional information regarding transfer credit can be found in the Graduate Catalog.

Academic integrity

As students in the PhD program of this college, it is expected that you set a good example of academic integrity for the undergraduate and graduate students in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. As you will be enrolled in graduate-level courses, you can set a good example by being in class early, assuming a leadership role in the classroom, getting engaged in classroom discussion, exercising scholarly discipline, turning in all assignments on or before deadlines and setting and achieving high personal goals. Graduate College guidelines about academic integrity can be found in the Graduate Catalog under Graduate Policies and Procedures section.

Preliminary candidate evaluation (1st Year Students Only)

Before the end of the first academic semester of course work, the student's mentor and the program director conduct a preliminary evaluation of the student. The evaluation is based on the student's program check sheet, a progress evaluation by the mentor and an informal meeting with the program director. It is directed at one of the following three areas of concentration: 

  1. design
  2. health and healing environments
  3. history, theory and criticism

Performance on the preliminary candidate evaluation serves as a guide to the student's program committee as the committee members counsel the student and formulate a program of study.

Annual student evaluation (All Students)

Current students in the program receive an evaluation annually, usually in April, which is approved by the mentor and the Executive Committee. Students submit to their mentor an updated summation of the academic year. The summation must include proposed research, including progress toward dissertation, a list of goals accomplished during the past academic year and projected goals for the upcoming academic year. Students may append other pertinent information of importance, including on and off campus seminars attended, presentations made, publications (submitted and printed) and grants received. After reviewing these materials, the mentor completes an evaluation that is sent to the Executive Committee.

After the presentation is made, the members of the Executive Committee meet to review the evaluation. Students must meet the minimum Graduate College requirements, but program standards may exceed these requirements. For example, students are expected to:

  • have all grades in graduate courses 3.0 GPA or greater
  • have made sufficient progress in their research projects
  • have attended or presented papers at seminars/meetings
  • have accomplished their goals from the previous year
  • set realistic goals for the upcoming academic year

Students who receive poor evaluations from their mentor or who are far below Graduate College or program standards are given "probationary" status. Those with "probationary" status or those with "specific requirements" (i.e., less severe than "probationary" ) status are required to work with their mentors to produce a timetable, with specific strategies to overcome the deficiencies noted in the evaluation from the Executive Committee. The timetable must be submitted for Executive Committee approval within four weeks from the receipt of the evaluation. Failure to produce a timetable by the required time or failure to overcome the deficiencies noted in the evaluation by a time set by the Executive Committee will result in a recommendation to the Dean of Graduate College that the student be dismissed from the program.

Comprehensive examinations

Upon completion of course work in the PhD Program of Study and before admission to candidacy and the start of dissertation research, the student must take a written examination on his or her knowledge of the chosen area of concentration and interdisciplinary knowledge, including the ability to communicate across disciplines. An oral examination follows the written examination. The comprehensive exams must be taken no later than the end of the fifth semester in the program. Failure in the comprehensive examination is considered final unless the supervisory committee and the director of the academic unit recommend and the Dean of the Graduate College approves, a reexamination. A reexamination may be administered no sooner than three months and no later than one year from the date of the original examination. Only one reexamination is permitted.

Admission to candidacy

Prior to admission to candidacy, the student must pass the comprehensive examination and successfully defend the dissertation prospectus that outlines the proposed dissertation research. After the student has passed the comprehensive exam and defended the proposal, the student's committee will forward the candidacy recommendation to the Director for approval. Once the Director approves the recommendation for candidacy, it will be forwarded to the Dean of Graduate College. Graduate College will notify the student in writing of their admission to candidacy and provide details about any remaining requirements and a graduation date.

Dissertation requirements

Following the semester in which they are admitted to candidacy, students must enroll for a minimum of six hours of 792 Research and 12 hours of 799 dissertation credit (18 combined). This allows for enrollment in a maximum of six hours of 792 Research prior to being admitted to candidacy.

After completion of dissertation research, each candidate will submit the final copy of the dissertation for review by the committee. Upon approval by the committee and at least ten working days before the defense, the final approved copy is submitted to the Dean of Graduate College review and scheduling of the defense. The dissertation must consist of a fully documented written analysis of a problem that is original in nature and extends the knowledge and/or theoretical framework of the field. The research must demonstrate the student's creativity and competence in independent research.

The dissertation must adhere to a specific format as specified by Graduate College in the Format manual. Because it outlines all relevant procedures, a careful review of this document well in advance of the preparation of the final copy of the dissertation is strongly recommended. A formatting tool which generates a template also is available. Additional information can be found on the Graduate College website.

Final examinations

A final oral public examination in defense of the dissertation is required. A candidate must pass the final examination within five years after completing the comprehensive examination.

Continuous enrollment

It is expected that a student in the PhD program will remain enrolled continuously until all requirements for graduation are fulfilled. If a student does not enroll during a given semester, they must request a leave of absence from the program for no more than two consecutive semesters. A leave must be requested for one semester at a time. A student who interrupts a program without obtaining leave status will be removed from the program and must reapply for admission.

Changing mentors or committee Members

If a student wishes to change mentors, co-mentors or members of their supervisory or dissertation committees, they should first contact the program director before approaching faculty members about changes. Changes in the supervisory or dissertation committees must be approved by the mentor and program director. If the POS has already been filed with Graduate College, the committee will need to be changed on the electronic Program of Study. 

Concurrent degree programs

Those students wishing to seek a concurrent degree, while pursuing their PhD in Design, Environment and the Arts, must request authorization from their dissertation committee, the chair of the other degree program and the director of the PhD program. The request must be submitted prior to being accepted into the concurrent degree. The final approval decision is made by Graduate College. Application forms are available on the PhD program website.

Selecting your mentor

The faculty of The Design School, School of Art participate in offering the degree. Faculty from disciplines outside of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts may participate in the program if appropriate to the interdisciplinary nature of the student’s research interest.

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts faculty members listed below are the only members who are approved to chair dissertation committees within the program.

Design Faculty

Diane Bender, Ph.D., MA, BA, Michigan State University. Computer-aided design, online design education, e-portfolio creation and assessment, technology in work environments.

Kenneth R. BrooksMLA, Utah State University. FASLA, FCELA, PLA. Ecological land use planning and community design, GIS, place-making, design performance, interdisciplinary collaboration, research methods, and design pedagogy.

Lori Brunner, PhD, Iowa State University. Her research is heavily interdisciplinary, collaborating with education, business, engineering, statistics, psychology, and other design disciplines. Design thinking, student motivation, and predicting design student success have been a thread throughout her research initiatives. In addition, she in interested in how instructional technology can assist the design student in the design studio.

Chingwen Cheng, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, MLA, University of Michigan, BS, National Taiwan University. Resilience and environmental justice theories, GIS and hydrological modeling.

Paul Coseo, Ph.D., The University of Michigan, MLA, The University of Michigan, BS, Central Michigan University. urban heat island mitigation; urban climatology; adaptation to climate change; landscape architecture; urban and ecological design; urban and environmental planning; urban sustainability; land use planning.

Renata P. Hejduk, Ph.D., Harvard University; MA, Tufts University; AB, Columbia University. History of architectural theory 1945–present, especially its relationship to continental philosophy, culture and literary theory, history and theories of the European and American radical avant-gardes in architecture and urbanism of the 1960s and 70s.

Maria Jackson, Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles; MPA, University of Southern California.  Comprehensive community revitalization, systems change, arts and culture in communities and dynamics of race and ethnicity, strategy, program design, research, learning and evaluation.

Mauricio Mejia, Ph.D., University of Minnesota; MDes, University of Cincinnati. Transdisciplinary Design, Human Computer Interactions, User Behaviors, Design Thinking, and User Experience.

Marc Neveu, Ph.D. & MArch, McGill University; Architecture; Design Thinking; Hermeneutics; and Storytelling.

T. Agami Reddy, Ph.D., Master in Solar Energy, University of Perpignan, France; BS, Sir Aurobindo International Center for Education, Pondicherry, India. Energy sustainability and renewable energy, demand-side energy efficiency and conservation in buildings and building energy systems, indoor air quality and its impact on occupant health and productivity, green buildings, advanced energy systems, low energy sustainable cooling.

Johanna Taylor, Ph.D., Taylor's work is grounded in a core value of art as catalyzing force in advancing justice in daily life, and her research explores questions of cultural equity through the intersection of art, community, policy, and place.  She engages topics of Community Development, Social Justice, Art, Urban Studies, and Urban Policy.

Olivier Vallerand, Ph.D. & M.Arch. (post-professional), McGill University; M.Arch. (professional) & B.Sc.Arch., Université Laval. Vallerand's research focuses on identity issues and their relation to the design and experience of interior spaces, queer and feminist approaches to design education, and alternative practices of design.  He engages in topics of Architecture, Interior Design, Performance and Installation, Art History, and Feminist and Queer Theory.

Paul K. Zygas, Ph.D., Cornell University; MArch, Harvard Graduate School of Design; AB cum laude, Harvard College. Architectural history and theory, modern architecture, baroque architecture.

Design Faculty Emeritus (not eligible for new committees)

Edward A. Cook, Ph.D., Wageningen University (Netherlands); MLA, Utah State University; BS, Washington State University. Urban open space planning, ecological networks and greenways, riparian corridor planning, ecological design.

Harvey Bryan, Ph.D., MS, MArch, University of California-Berkeley; BArch, Arizona State University. Energy and buildings, building simulation and environmental impacts of buildings.

Jacques Giard, Ph.D., Concordia University (Canada); HDiploma Design, Birmingham Polytechnic (United Kingdom); Diploma Design, Institut des arts appliques (Canada). Cultural and contextual values in design; operational issues in design; microeconomic enterprises in design.

Art Faculty

Claudia Brown, Ph.D., University of Kansas. Art history, later Chinese painting and decorative arts, museums and exhibitions.

Julie Codell, Ph.D., Indiana University; Certificate in Renaissances Studies, Indiana University; MA, University of Michigan; MA, Indiana University; BA, Vassar College. Art history, film, 19th C. Victorian culture and empire, 19th C. imperial India, Critical Theory.

Dan Collins, Ph.D., ASU; MFA, UCLA; MA, Stanford University; BA, University of California, Davis. Engaged in intermedia and core foundations in art.

Betsy Fahlman, Ph.D., MA, University of Delaware; BA, Mount Holyoke College. Art history, American art, public art, internships, history of photography, women artists.

Muriel Magenta, Ph.D., Arizona State University; MFA, Arizona State University; MA, Johns Hopkins University and Arizona State University; BA, City University of New York, Queens. A "new genre" artist working in video, computer art, web technology, installation, multimedia performance and sculpture.

Claudia Mesch, Ph.D., The University of Chicago; MA, University of California at Los Angeles; BA, Yale University. Art history, 20th century and contemporary art.

Corine Schleif, DPhil, Universität Bamberg (Germany); MA, Washington University in St. Louis. Art history, medieval, Renaissance, gender, theory, historiography, multimedia, animals.

Nancy Serwint, , Ph.D., MA, Princeton University; MA, University of Chicago; BA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Art History, Greek, Roman, Egyptian art and archaeology, inter-cultural connections in the Eastern Mediterranean and coroplastic arts in the ancient World.

Gray Sweeney, Ph.D., Indiana University. Art history, art of the American west, the Hudson River School and American painting in the 19th century.

Committee members

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts faculty members listed below can participate as committee members on dissertation committees within the program.

Marlin Addison, MEP, Arizona State University; BA in Architecture, University of New Mexico; BA, University of New Mexico, Architecture

Thomas Hartman, D.P.L.G. (Diplome par le Gouvernement), Ecole Nationale Superieure des BeauxArts, Paris France; B.S.A.S. University of Nebraska. Architecture.

William Heywood, Ph.D., The Fielding Institute. Research focus is exploring creative collaboration in multi-disciplinary teams as it relates to design education and critical visual thinking.

Alfred Sanft, MFA, Basel School of Design, Switzerland; BFA, Brigham Young University. Program Director of Visual Communication Design, Master of Science in Design.

Dosun Shin, MFA Industrial Design, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; BFA, Keimyung University, South Korea. Research focuses on Humanization of technology with a focus on assistive devices.

David Tinapple, MFA, Carnegie Mellon University. Research is centered on the creation of custom tools for capturing and exploring images, video, sound and human interaction.

Philip White, MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art; BS, University of Kansas. Conducts research to develop ecologically intelligent products and systems.

Milagros Zingoni, Master of Urban and Environmental Planning (MUEP), Arizona State University, Architecture degree from Universidad de Flores, Cipolletti, Rio Negro, Argentina, BA in Habitat Design from the Escuela de Diseno en el Habitat, Neuquen Argentina. Registered Architect in Argentina. Research and scholarly interests: Children and the environment. Learning environments, resilient- hybrid environments. Human behavior in the environment. Community engagement as a pedagogy to teach studios.

Current PhD Students

Below you will find abstracts of paper presentations made by some of our current students at national and international meetings/seminars/conferences.

Mansour Mohammed A Alhazmi

Concentration: Design


Areas of interest: 

Research topic: 

Saud AlKhaled

Concentration: Design

Committee Chair: Paul Coseo

Areas of Interest: urban climate design; urban induced heating and mitigative interventions; climate change adaptation     

Research Topic: Heat Mitigation in Hot Urban Deserts: Actualities, Magnitude & Effectiveness

Rua Alshaheen

Concentration: Green Design

Chair: Renata Hejduk, associate professor 

Areas of interest: Artificial environments, Design for nonhumans, Scenario planning

Research topic: Exploring an ideal future zoo archetype

Brandelyn Andres

Concentration: History, Theory, Criticism


Areas of interest: 

Research topic:

Noe Badillo

Concentration: History, Theory, and Criticism 

Chair: K. Paul Zygas

Areas of interest: Architecture, history of science, history of engineering, history of mathematics, history of astronomy.

Research topic: : My dissertation is about the Church of San Lorenzo in Turin, built by the Theatine architect Guarino Guarini. The thesis is as follows:

Guarini presents three principles in the Architettura Civile (Treatise on Civil Architecture), which he derives from the ancient Roman manuscript, the Ten Books on Architecture (De Architectura Libri Decem) by Vitruvius. These three distinct principles, “the art of building, the art of horology and gnomonics (timekeeping and the construction of sundials), and mechanics (the movement and equilibrium of physical bodies), are intended to combine the element of science with methods of construction and engineering for civil architecture.” At the helm of these three principles is the scientific, cosmological concept of the axis mundi; the fulcrum around which the earth revolves (axis mundi est dimetiens, circum quem versatur). The publication of his writings on philosophy, astronomy and mathematics take precedent to the direct, pragmatic study of architecture and building, a knowledge which was not made public until long after Guarini’s death in 1683. What we are left with are the pieces of a Daedelean puzzle.

Heather Bowyer

Concentration: History, Theory, Criticism

Chair: Nancy Serwint

Dissertation: Defining Identity: Physical Dysmorphia as a Cultural Marker in Greek Comedic Terracotta Figurines from Athens and Corinth

Areas of Interest: Hellenistic Athens and Corinth New Comedy productions and Late Roman Republican theatrical production.  

Tina Mastropolito Bruno

Concentration: Art History

Chair: Julie Codell, professor

Areas of interest: Victorian art and material culture; satire

Research topic: Satirical responses to Aestheticism in popular media

K. Bevin Butler

Concentration: History, Theory, Criticism

Chair: Corine Schleif, professor of art history

Areas of interest: Medieval Germany, women's monasticism, the history of the textile arts (including notions of craft and women's work), Medieval embroideries and tapestries made in women's monasteries in Germany and Sweden, historiography of female artists in the Middle Ages (especially nuns), gender and spirituality in the Middle Ages

Research Topic: My dissertation, titled  Crafting Agency in Needle and Thread: "Nuns' Work" and Textile Production in Late Medieval Monasteries, interrogates historic associations of textiles with femininity, the historiography pertaining to nuns’ contributions to the arts in the Middle Ages, and ways in which embroideries and tapestries produced by nuns subverted traditional church hierarchies.  

Josh Chuzi

Concentration: History, Theory, Criticism

Chair: Beverly Brandt, professor

Areas of interest: Transformative collaboration, culture development, and Performance Theory.

Research topic: Cultural Choreography: History, Design, Humor, and Identity in Building Context for Transformative Collaboration

Taraneh Darvish

Concentration: Design

Chair: Dr. Renata Hedjuk, associate professor

Areas of interest: Appropriateness of ‘gendered design’ thinking & influences on designing spaces, Community and Public Urban Space and influences of Gender, Culture and Design, Gender Disparities in Use of Space)

Research topic: “Design empathy and and civic practice strategy in improving the women’s agency in health and wellness, case study of Women-only fitness centers”

Nathan Finden

Concentration: Design

Committee Chair: William Heywoood

Areas of interest: Typography, Information Design, Cartography

Research topic: Typeface selection for efficient comprehension of maps

Rebecca Gill

Concentration: Design


Areas of interest:

Research topic: 

Sarah Gosset

Concentration: History, Theory, Criticism

Chair: Claudia Brown 

Area of interest: Japanese medieval religious painting and Edo to early Showa print culture

Research Topic: The intersection between cultural identity, nationalism, and depictions of the land

Carolyn Greene

Concentration: Art History

Chair: Dr. Claudia Brown

Areas of interest: Chinese porcelain, imperial patronage, early porcelain collecting 

Research topic: The transitional period of porcelain production during late dynastic China into the early Republic period. 

Yi Huang

Concentration: History, Theory, and Criticism 


Areas of interest: 

Research topic:

Rochelle Kessler

Concentration: History, Theory, and Criticism 

Chair: Claudia Brown

Areas of interest: The arts of the pre-modern imperial courts of South Asia, the Middle East, and Central Asia. The manuscript cultures of greater Asia, imperial patronage and portraiture, sacred texts and calligraphy, and the transmission of artistic techniques and iconography between the imperial courts of South Asia and Middle East and those of Europe and East Asia. The art and archaeology of the ancient Near East, nomadic peoples and their transition to urbanism, cultural and artistic exchange along the Silk Road, the Chingizid and Turkic cultural legacy of the greater Persianate world, and the history and practice of scientific and natural history illustration.

Research topic: The depiction of mystics, ascetics, and other religious personages (historical and mythical) within the corpus of imperial Mughal painting of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Matthew Krise

Concentration: Design

Areas of interest: Product Development + Innovation Strategy + User Centered Research + User Experience + Organization Learning 

Research topic: Multi-Organizational Team Innovation: How the nature of the relationship between design/innovation consultancy and client impacts the client’s absorptive capacity.

Joomee Lee

Concentration: Design

Committee Chair: Chingwen Cheng

Areas of interest:  Research interests are in the comprehensive green infrastructure planning, design, and implementation strategy to deal with urban environmental hazards and environmental justice.

Research topic: Research topic is to explore spatial patterns of green infrastructure which mitigate urban flooding and social vulnerability.

Sarah Malak

Concentration: Design

Committee Co-chairs: Renata Hejduk & Darren Petrucci

Areas of interest: Architectural Design, Urban Design, Play-Spaces

Research topic: Play-Space Making for Children by Nature

Jennifer McCabe

Concentration: History, Theory, and Criticism

Chair: Betsy Fahlman

Areas of interest: Contemporary Art 

Research topic: Early Feminist Performance Art

Amelia Miholca

Concentration: History, Theory, and Criticism

Chair: Claudia Mesch

Areas of interest: Modern and Contemporary art, specifically Romanian art within the context of identity construction, transnational engagement, and political destabilization.

Research topic: Romanian avant-garde magazines of the 1920s

Silvia Neretti

Concentration: Design

Committee Co-Chairs: Adam Nocek & Kristina Niedderer

Areas of interest: Design for Behavior Change

Research topic: Mental illness and the built environment

Lisa Pena

Committee Co-Chairs: Wil Heywood and Mookesh Patel

Areas of interest: Design

Research topic:  Information Design, a sub-category of Graphic Design, has grown rapidly in present day; however, a detailed reference does not exist to share the field’s lineage. By focusing on the 18th and 19th centuries, a time when the field began to surge, modern designers will have a resource that does not repeat the same names we are used to seeing, but will expose them to individuals who practiced and developed Information Design making it what it is today.

David Richardson

Concentration: Design

Committee Chair: K.Paul Zygas 

Areas of interest: architectural history, 20th century history, architectural education

Research topic: the avant-garde, experimental, revolutionary period of architectural education at Vkhutemas

Elena Rocchi

Concentration: Design


Areas of interest: 

Research topic:

Brian Rojas

Concentration: Design

Committee Chair: Edward 'Ted" Cook

Research topic: Regenerative Development

Samantha Samples

Concentration: Design

Chair: Katherine Crewe, associate professor

Areas of interest: Collaboration and cooperation in environmental initiatives, the relationship between people and the environment, faith-based environmental activities, and transportation planning,     

Research topic: Faith-based perspectives of environmental activities, participation, and collaboration in the Phoenix metro area. 

Claudio Santos de Almeida

Concentration: Digital Culture into Design, Environment and Arts PhD program

Chair: Dr. Winslow Burleson, assistant professor

Areas of interest: environmental education, technology in education, gaming, storytelling, cultural diversity

Research topic: How to develop a comprehensive framework for the design of interactive educational objects that can integrate and present scientific information about nature and sustainability themes in ways that enhance scientific literacy and the capacity for citizen science. - particularly for k-12 children age.

Joshua Schoonover

Concentration: Healthcare and Healing Environments

Chair: Dr. Michael Kroelinger, Professor, James Shraiky, Assistant Professor (Co-Chair) 

Areas of interest: Strategic design of new and existing healthcare facilities

Xiao Sheng

Concentration: History, Theory, and Criticism

Chair: Claudia Brown, professor 

Areas of interest: East Asian paintings and prints; European and American paintings from the 19th century on.

Research topic: The tradition and innovation of Chinese landscape painting; China's reaction to foreign art influence and localization; How East Asian art and philosophy impact on Modern Western paintings.

Ed Soltero

Concentration: Design

Chair: K. Paul Zygas, Associate Professor of Architecture

Areas of interest: Sustainable Design in hot-arid regions, Architectural Theory

Research topic: A Framework for Desert Modernism

Kristen Strange

Committee Chair: Dr. Claudia Mesch

Areas of interest: Modern art with a focus on Surrealism, the Surrealists’ interest in Indigenous objects, and surrealist collecting and exhibition practices

Research topic: Surrealist collecting and display methods, their impact on twentieth-century private modern art collectors, and their legacy in current postcolonial museum practices

Wooyoung Sung

Concentration: Design

Chair: Dr. Jacques Giard, professor

Areas of interest: How the use of design research differs between academia, how it is taught and used in PhD research and industrial design practice, how industrial designers apply and/or modify known design research methods in everyday practice. At present, I am doing a comparative analysis of certain research methods and their application in research in academia and industry.

Breezy Taggart

Concentration: History, Theory, and Criticism 

Committee chair: Betsy Fahlman

Areas of interest: medical humanities, history of photography and film, twentieth century art, and disability studies

Research topic: representations of mental illness and health in art

Momoko Welch

Concentration: History, Theory, and Criticism

Chair: Claudia Brown, professor

Area of Interest: Japanese painting

Research topic: Early 20th century Japanese painting

Zaellotius Wilson

Concentration: History, Theory, and Criticism 


Areas of interest:

Yumeng Xie

Concentration: Design

Chairs: Jacques Giard, Mauricio Mejia

Areas of interest: Design education, Transdisciplinarity, Environmental Design, Interior Design, Work Environment Design

Research topic: Transdisciplinary Design Education

Jinlong Yuan

Concentration: Design


Areas of interest: 

Research Topic:


Frequently asked questions

Do I send my application and materials to the PhD Program or to Graduate Education

Do I send my application and materials to the PhD Program or to Graduate Education

Applications are completed using the online application through Graduate Education. All official transcripts and test scores must be submitted to the Graduate Education Admissions office at:

If sending by U.S. Postal Service:

Arizona State University

Graduate Admission Services

PO Box 870112

Tempe, AZ 85287-0112

If sending by FedEx, DHL, or UPS

Graduate Admission Services

Arizona State University

1151 S. Forest Avenue, #SSV112

Tempe, AZ  85287-0112

How can I check my application status?

How can I check my application status?

After you submit your application to Graduate Education, they will send you an email acknowledgement that includes your ASURITE ID and Activation Code. After activating your ASURITE ID, you can track your application status through MyASU. You also can view your To Do List to see if Graduate Education is waiting for materials such as transcripts or test scores.

There is no mention of portfolios as part of the application, but are they required?

There is no mention of portfolios as part of the application, but are they required?

Portfolios are not required.

I have obtained letters of recommendation, where do I send them? Should they come directly from the sponsors or from me?

I have obtained letters of recommendation, where do I send them? Should they come directly from the sponsors or from me?

Letters of recommendation are completed and submitted electronically through The Design School’s Slideroom application. Contact information for recommenders will be request at the time of application. The recommender will receive an email with a link to the recommendation form once the applicant has paid the application fee.

Do I have to have my recommender submit the recommendation electronically?

Do I have to have my recommender submit the recommendation electronically?

Yes, all.

Where do I send my official transcripts? May I send an official copy of my transcripts?

Where do I send my official transcripts? May I send an official copy of my transcripts?

Transcripts must be sent directly from your academic institution. All transcripts must be official and sent to the ASU Graduate Education Admissions office at:

Arizona State University
Graduate Admissions Services
PO Box 871003 
Tempe, Arizona 85287-1003

Or delivered to: (If courier requires a street address)

Graduate Admissions Services
Arizona State University 
1151 S Forest Ave, #SSV112
Tempe, AZ 85287

International transcripts must be sent in both the original language and with an official English translation.

If my application is received after the deadline, may I still be admitted for the fall semester?

If my application is received after the deadline, may I still be admitted for the fall semester?

If your PhD application is late, it will not be reviewed. Only completed applications will be reviewed.

I work full-time, can I enroll in the PhD program and attend classes on a part-time basis?

I work full-time, can I enroll in the PhD program and attend classes on a part-time basis?

The PhD. program can be pursued in a part-time fashion, however it is not structured to do so. Typically, our PhD program takes 5-6 years to complete for full-time students. All degree requirements for a PhD must be completed within 10 years from the date of admission or 6 years from passing comprehensive exams.

Can I complete the PhD program remotely or do I have to physically be in Arizona?

Can I complete the PhD program remotely or do I have to physically be in Arizona?

The PhD course requirement must be completed on the campus. However, once individuals have completed all coursework, the dissertation may be worked on remotely. Students will need to physically be on campus from time to time in order to meet requirements (i.e., defenses).

I am a professional and not interested in pursuing the graduate degree, can I sit in on graduate level classes?

I am a professional and not interested in pursuing the graduate degree, can I sit in on graduate level classes?

You must apply to the University as a non-degree seeking student. You may do this through the Graduate Education. Once admitted, you may either enroll or audit a course if there is space available and you meet the requirements for the enrollment.

What kind of financial aid can I expect from the PhD program?

What kind of financial aid can I expect from the PhD program?

It has become the practice of the PhD program to offer admission only to students which can be offered funding as a Teaching Associate (TA). There are a limited number of TA positions and a higher amount of demand. The TA offer at the time of admission is typically renewable for up to three academic years per funding availability, good academic standing‚ and positive TA evaluations. Students are also encourage to apply to the department of their background (i.e., a student with a background in architecture should apply to The Design School as well). It should be noted that application does not necessarily mean that a student will receive a TA position. The financial aid office has more options available to students. Their information can be found at

What if I have other questions when I get there?

What if I have other questions when I get there?

PhD Orientation will be held the first week before the fall semester.

What are examples of projects students are currently working on?

What are examples of projects students are currently working on?

Student research interests and current professional presentations and publications can be found on the Current Students page.

Can I defer my admission to the PhD program?

Can I defer my admission to the PhD program?

The PhD program does not process admission deferrals. If you would like to be considered for admission to a future semester, you will need to apply for that particular admission term. Please be aware that admission is only granted for the fall semester.

Can I apply for Spring admission?

Can I apply for Spring admission?

This is a fall admission only program; thus we do not accept applications for spring admission.

I have questions regarding the Graduate Application Fee, who do I talk to?

I have questions regarding the Graduate Application Fee, who do I talk to?

Direct questions regarding Graduate Application Fees to Graduate Education at or by phone at 480.965.6113.

Who is my advisor?

Who is my advisor?

At the graduate level, advising is done by faculty. Your faculty mentor will guide you in the search for elective courses, as well as courses related to your thesis, applied project or dissertation. The Graduate Coordinator can inform you of required courses. Students select a potential mentor at the time of application. If you are admitted into our program, this is your mentor. Although typically the mentor becomes the chair of your dissertation committee, your chair might be a different person.

Where can I find what courses I should register for?

Where can I find what courses I should register for?

You can find the required courses for your degree on the Program page.

Where can I find information about housing?

Where can I find information about housing?

Housing information can be found at

Where do I park?

Where do I park?

Parking information can be found at

How may I have a tour?

How may I have a tour?

If you will be visiting the campus, you can schedule a tour of the institute by For more information on a tour of ASU, please visit