Our goal is to improve the lives of all people, in all buildings, everywhere, every day. We see health as the primary motivator for action.



The Healthy Buildings Team created the 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building as a standardized, holistic approach to understanding how buildings impact the people inside them. In any indoor space - offices, homes, schools, airplanes - these foundations can be assessed via Health Performance Indicators, or HPIs. Derived from the business term Key Performance Indicators, HPIs are metrics that provide insight into how a building is performing.


By tracking HPIs on all 9 Foundations of the built environment, we can discover how to optimize buildings for health. We call this "Buildingomics": the totality of factors in the built environment that influence human health, well-being and productivity of people who work in those buildings.




Dr. Joseph Allen is the Director of the Healthy Buildings Program

He joined the Harvard faculty in 2014 as Assistant Professor of Exposure Assessment Sciences in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where he researches community and occupational exposures and health risks related to a broad range of chemical, biological, physical and radiological stressors. In particular, he focuses on the built environment, emissions from building materials and consumer products, and building system performance, each of which has the potential for both positive and negative impacts on human health, well-being and productivity.

Dr. Allen has led exposure and health investigations in several hundred buildings across a diverse range of industries, including health care, biotechnology, education (primary schools and higher education), commercial office real estate and manufacturing. He presents internationally on the topic of “Healthy Buildings”, and his work has been featured widely in the popular press, including the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, National Geographic, Time, NPR, Newsweek, Washington Post, and Fortune. He earned his Doctor of Science (DSc) and Master of Public Health (MPH) degrees from the Boston University School of Public Health, and a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Biology from Boston College. (full bio)


Associate Director

Dr. Piers MacNaughton a is an Associate Director of the Healthy Buildings Program.

His research focuses on the influence of the built environment on health. Presently, he manages The CogFx Study, which investigates the link between green buildings, health, and productivity in commercial offices. In collaboration with architects, designers, property owners, building managers and researchers, he works on applying the findings of this research to the U.S. building stock to promote healthier work environments. He has also led projects in residential and academic settings, investigating a wide range of exposures and their health impacts.

Dr. MacNaughton graduated from Tufts University in 2012 with a degree in environmental engineering. He went straight on to a Master's program in environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He recently completed his doctoral degree with his advisor, Dr. Joseph Allen, who is the Program Director for the Healthy Buildings Program.


Associate Director

Dr. Jose Guillermo (Memo) Cedeno Laurent is an Associate Director of the Healthy Buildings Program.

Memo's research interests include indoor environmental quality and health, the built environment and sleep quality, and environmental sensor networks. Currently, Memo is coordinating research efforts on exposure to chemicals and health through the Marilyn Hoffman Program, which aims to advance our understanding of the health consequences of chemicals and other toxins, especially among vulnerable populations.

Memo holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Monterrey Tech and worked in the automotive industry in both Mexico and Germany. Memo then received a M.S. degree in Energy Engineering from Aachen University, in Germany. While in Germany, he wrote his master's thesis on novel carbon dioxide capture methods at the Institute of Energy and Climate Research at the Juelich Research Center. In 2014, he graduated from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health with a Sc.D. degree in Environmental Health, under the mentorship of Dr. John D. Spengler.


PhD Student

Emily Gilson is a doctoral student in the Population Health Sciences program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences where her coursework and research focus on environmental health and epidemiology.

Before coming to Harvard, she worked as an environmental consultant specializing in groundwater remediation and environmental data science. She also has experience performing research into different aspects of environmental fate and transport, including greenhouse gas dynamics in wetlands, stability and speciation of metals in wetlands with implications for bioremediation, and environmental functions of bacteria. She earned her Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) degree from Princeton University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2015 and her Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013.


PhD Student

 Anna Young is a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences concentrating in Environmental Health.

Her research focuses on exposures of children and other vulnerable populations to chemicals in consumer products and building materials. In particular, she is interested in how shifts towards healthier products in the indoor built environment can reduce chemical exposures and promote health. Anna holds a BA in Computer Science and Environmental Studies from Yale University and an MS in Environmental Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Program Leader, Schools For Health

Erika Eitland works in the Healthy Buildings Program as the program leader for Healthy Schools.

Erika's research focuses on the impact K-12 schools buildings have on student and teacher health in the United States. Using exposure assessment science tools, Erika explores the role of school facilities and the surrounding environmental and social context. She is deeply interested in creating tools that translate scientific research findings into user-friendly information that promote short and long-term success of students. Previously, her research has focused on climate change, food access, low-income housing, and gender inequality.

Erika holds a B.S. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Connecticut and MPH in Environmental Health Sciences from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Erika is a 2nd Year Doctoral Student in the Department of Environmental Health at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


Post-Doctoral Fellow

Dr. Xiaodong Cao works in the Healthy Buildings program as a postdoctoral fellow.

His research interests mainly include aircraft cabin environment, particle image velocimetry (PIV) measurement, indoor air distributions, daylighting simulation and building energy performance. Presently, Xiaodong is working on the risk assessment of radon exposure in built environment and global green building study. He is also taking part in research efforts on the co-benefits of green building movements, sentiment analysis based on social media, and influence of ventilation on indoor environmental quality and occupant health. His publications can be found at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Xiaodong_Cao3.

Xiaodong holds a B. Eng. degree in Building Environment from Tianjin University. As a top 5 engineering university in China, Tianjin University provided him a through education and fired up his enthusiasm in further research on green built environment. In 2016, he received his doctoral degree in Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning (HVAC) in the Tianjin Key Lab of Indoor Air Environmental Quality Control, Tianjin University. He also received a state scholarship fund to be a one-year visiting Ph. D. student at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia from 2014 to 2015.


Research Associate

Dr. Sparer is a Research Associate for the Healthy Buildings Program.

Emily’s research centers on the impact of environmental factors on health outcomes in various settings, including the workplace and the home. She examines the intersection between the physical, organizational, and social environments in an effort to improve the health, safety, and wellbeing of all people. Much of her work in relies on community-based approaches to intervention development and evaluation. Currently, she is the Project Manager of “Project Bridge”, a study examining the impact of the built environment on clinical trial outcomes. She is also leading a project in collaboration with the Boston Fire Department that is examining the role of exposures at the fire station on cancer risk among firefighters.

Following completion of a B.A. from Barnard College in Environmental Science, Emily worked for several years for an environmental consulting company. She then went on to obtain an M.S. in Occupational Hygiene, followed by a Sc.D. in Ergonomics and Safety, both from the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Most recently, she completed a National Cancer Institute funded post-doctoral fellowship in cancer prevention in a joint program between the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Chan.


Research Fellow

Nastaran Arfaei is a researcher and augmented reality/virtual reality developer in the Healthy Buildings program.

She explores the effects of different elements of built environment on human health and behavior, often with the application of Virtual and augmented reality. Nastaran has a background in architecture with an M.Arch from Harvard GSD as well as experience in research in psychology and cognitive science lab. At the intersection of design, technology and science, she aims to study environmental health with an interdisciplinary approach. She is involved with several projects which include use of virtual reality for understanding effects of biophilic design and real time visualization of environmental data.



Jose Vallarino is an research engineer at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

He has provided technical and logistical support for exposure assessment research projects for over 20 years. He consults with researchers on the selection and/or design of exposure assessment tools used for research and provides guidance on Institutional Review Board requirements of research projects. He serves as the Quality Assurance Officer for two large exposure assessment research centers.


Doctoral Candidate

Augusta Williams is a doctoral student at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health in the Department of Environmental Health.

Her research focuses on the influence of the built environment on human exposure to extreme heat and the resulting health and cognitive effects of these exposures. She is presently working with Dr. Cedeno to investigate the impact of extreme heat on the health, comfort, sleep, and cognitive function of college-aged students and low-income seniors. Augusta graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2013 with a degree in biology and atmospheric sciences and completed her Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in Climate and Health from Columbia University in 2015. She is currently advised in her ScD program by Dr. John Spengler.


Research Assistant

Deborah Donnelly-McLay works in the Healthy Buildings program as a researcher in Aviation Health.

Deborah has been involved in the aviation industry for over 25 years. She is currently an international Boeing 767 airline Captain with United Parcel Service. Her background and experience in aviation include many diverse roles, including: Flight Attendant, FAA Certified Flight and Ground Instructor, FAA Certified Check Airman, Flight Simulator Instructor, Flight Engineer, LOSA Observer and Airline Transport Pilot.

Deborah has earned a Master's Degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. She is currently terminating a second Master's Degree from Harvard University and a Doctorate in Education. Deborah has been able to utilize her experience and education in aviation to collaborate on the Harvard Pilot Health Survey and other research involving aviation and health issues.


Visiting Doctoral Student

Yang Geng works in the Healthy Buildings Program as a visiting doctoral student.

His research interests mainly focus on the improvement of building performance, including reducing building energy consumption, improving indoor environmental quality, and enhancing occupants’ comfort, productivity and health. His publications can be found at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Yang_Geng7.

Yang holds a B. Eng. Degree in Building Science from Tsinghua University, which is the Top 1 engineering university in China. He also continued to study for the doctoral degree, supervised by Prof. Borong Lin, in Tsinghua University since 2015. In 2018, he received a national scholarship fund to be a one-year visiting Ph.D. student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. After that, he will return to China to finish his Ph.D. study in Tsinghua.


Research Assistant

Maya Bliss is a Research Assistant with the Healthy Buildings program.

Maya Bliss is senior at Brandeis University studying Health: Science, Society, and Policy with a minor in Environmental Studies, as well as the captain of the Varsity Track and Field Team. Her interests lie in community health and particularly the impacts of sustainable buildings, energy, and practices on health. She works on the Global CogFx study and the firefighter initiatives with the Healthy Buildings Team.


Research Assistant

Debbie Chan is a Research Assistant with the Healthy Buildings Program.

Debbie is a Junior at Harvard College. She is currently concentrated in History of Science with a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy and a citation in French. In her free time, she likes ballroom dancing and pencil sketching. She works on with the Schools For Health program.


Research Assistant

Sydney Robinson is a Research Assistant with the Healthy Buildings Program.

Sydney is a sophomore at Harvard College intending to concentrate in History and Science with a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. Sydney's interests lie in the intersections of environmental science, human health, and sociology. On campus, she works with a student-run nonprofit that delivers fresh produce to areas of Boston with limited access to grocers. She is currently helping Dr. Allen with writing his book on the economic case for healthy buildings.


Research Assistant

Skye Flanigan is a Research Assistant in the Healthy Buildings Program

Skye has a background in environmental consulting, international finance, hospitality, and event planning for innovation communities. Since joining the team in 2014, she has coordinated numerous research studies and events for the group. In May 2016, Skye received her Master's degree from Harvard in Sustainability and Environmental Management with a focus on Environmental Health. Previously, Skye received her Bachelor of Science in International Business from the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver.


Postdoctoral Fellow

Drew Michanowicz is a postdoctoral research fellow

In collaboration with Sensors for Health, Dr. Michanowicz is leading development of a 3D air quality monitoring drone using new gas sensing technologies that can be deployed in spaces previously inaccessible to traditional sampling methods. Drew received both a Master and Doctor of Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health.


Research Associate

Dr. Peggy Lai is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Lai is trained as a pulmonary physician and an environmental epidemiologist using 'omics to better understand the relationship between indoor air pollution and chronic lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in children and adults. She has previously worked as a clinician in countries such as Guatemala, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, and Uganda providing care to patients in resource limited settings. She currently conducts research on indoor air pollution and lung health in Boston, Shanghai, and Mbarara, Uganda. The main focus of Dr. Lai's research group is on how environmental microbiota interacts with human microbiota to cause disease or maintain lung health, and also on the contribution of lighting to household air pollution in resource limited settings.


Doctoral Candidate

Alexander Wu is a Doctoral Student in the Department of Environmental Health at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

He works in the Airline Pilot Health Study with a focus on depression and suicidal thoughts. His research centers on describing commercial airline pilot mental health and evaluating biomarkers of heavy metal exposure and depression. Other interests include health effects of noise exposure, health policy, urban planning, and agricultural safety and health. Mr. Wu received a B.S. in Neuroscience and a MPH in Global Health Promotion and Environmental Health from Brigham Young University. He has worked at the University of Texas M.D. Andersen Cancer Center as a research assistant in the pharmacology lab evaluating novel cancer drugs. He has also worked for the Utah Department of Health, drafting policy documents on tobacco control for Utah policy makers, and as an environmental epidemiologist drafting public health assessments on Superfund sites and health assessments on environmental exposures.


PhD Student

Jie Yin is a doctoral student in the Population Health Sciences program at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, focusing on Environmental Health.

Jie’s research interests lie in the cross-disciplinary field of urban planning and public health, including assessing the health impacts of biophilic design and environmental health risk factors shaped by urban planning and policy. Before coming to Harvard, he spent eight years working on eco-city theory and rural sustainable development at Tongji University and Shanghai Tongji Urban Planning & Design Institute. As a certified urban planner in China, Jie has led several award-winning projects on environmental planning, urban/rural design, land-use planning and community design. Jie holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Health from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a Master of Urban Planning degree from Tongji University.

Skylar Klager

Masters Student

Nate Dieudonne


Xi Zhang

Visiting Scholar

Alex Hem

Research Intern

Olivia Leach, MPH

Data Visualization

Lacey Klingensmith, MS


Sepideh Pakpour, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Nicole Kocher-Romanowski


Zhao Dong, ScD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Julie M. Goodman, PhD

Research Associate

Catherine Le

Design Intern

Emily Schwartz

Research Intern