CBE launches new mentorship program

Interior of Gould Hall and Gould Gallery with people in it

The College of Built Environments has launched its first-ever, college-wide mentorship program. The program will help students grow in their chosen field through one-on-one guidance, advice, and insight from a mentor.

Our goal for the 2022-2023 academic year is to provide a mentor to every CBE student wanting guidance from a CBE graduate and/or industry professional.

Interested in serving as a mentor?

You can work one-on-one with a College of Built Environments student and help them grow professionally through career exploration, networking, and professional skill-building by signing up for our mentor program. This is an excellent opportunity to support the built environments community by sharing your advice and professional experience.


Mentors do not need to be University of Washington graduates. Applications are preferred by September 30th.

Mentors are needed in the following areas:

  • Architecture
  • Construction Management
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Urban Design and Planning

The program begins in November and runs through May. Mentor/mentee pairs are encouraged to meet at least twice per quarter for one hour — this is a total of 6 meetings in one academic year. CBE provides a handbook that includes suggestions for discussion topics and activities. The event launches with a kick-off event on November 8 at the wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ Intellectual House on the Seattle campus. Optional events and activities for mentoring pairs will also be shared through regular emails from the program office.

Program Information


Watch the short overview video and checked out the program website. You can also email the program office at cbementor@uw.edu to ask specific questions or to set up a call or Zoom meeting.

Q&A: Exploring how the design of the built environment affects our health and well-being

How does the design of the built environment – such as houses, schools, workplaces, streets, parks, transportation systems, and urban form – affect our health and well-being? To explore these issues, editors Nisha D. Botchwey, Andrew Dannenberg, and Howard Frumkin, recently published the second edition of “Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Well-being, Equity, and Sustainability.”

The first edition, published in 2011, was widely used to teach students in public health, urban planning, architecture, and other fields about the impacts of design on human health. In subsequent years there has been increasing focus on how the design of the built environment impacts health in areas such as climate change, sustainability, environmental justice, and the COVID-19 pandemic. There has also been a growing need for more cross-disciplinary training across these fields.

We asked the editors about the importance of this book now.

Why did you want to write this book?

The second edition of Making Healthy Places fills the gap in the education of health and design professionals so they will understand how the design and building of places impacts health and will be prepared to create healthy places. Making Healthy Places includes practical applications, an enhanced emphasis on sustainability, equity, well-being, and examples from urban and rural environments in high-income and low to middle-income countries around the world. The first edition of MHP, published in 2011, has been used widely for teaching in the US, Australia, and elsewhere, and has become out of date.

Why does this book matter? How does it help actually create healthy places that are equitable and sustainable and promote well-being?

As the climate crisis intensifies and recognition of racism and other forms of inequity continues to grow, it is important to study the role of the built environment in addressing such issues. The field is growing and more people are interested in learning about the connection between the built environment and health; this book is valuable for students planning on working at this intersection.
New technologies emerge every day that allow us to study the built environment and develop meaningful ways of creating healthy places.

Please give us an overview of the book. What topics are covered in the second edition of the book? Why did you include these in this new version? What are some key differences between the first edition and the second edition?

This second edition (2022) maintains key messages while expanding treatment of some topics including wellbeing and sustainability, with new chapters on equity and health disparities, issues across the lifespan, climate change, resilience, technological innovations, and impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We were able to review feedback from UW students on the first edition and incorporate that into the new and updated chapters. We also included updated references along with a website. It was important for us to increase diversity of contributors by gender, race, geography, and professional expertise, incorporate global perspectives, and keep sustainability as a main focus.

With an urban planner as the lead editor of the second edition, the book highlights work that can be done by planners and other design professionals in collaboration with public health professionals to promote health, well-being, sustainability, and equity.

Some people may not realize the connection between community design and health, how might you describe or explain that relationship?

Both fields took modern form in the 19th century in response to rapid population growth, industrialization, and urbanization; they eventually evolved to become distinct fields. Today’s leading causes of suffering and death are related to community design and associated behavioral choices. There are numerous opportunities for the two fields to collaborate that would lead to improved health, well-being and sustainability.

How does the book respond to the COVID-19 pandemic? In what ways did shifting COVID-19 policies influence the writing process/direction?

The COVID-19 pandemic began after we started drafting the book. As the pandemic unfolded, we decided to add an entire chapter about COVID-19 and the design of the built environment. We also revised chapters to discuss connections between topics in other chapters and the pandemic.

Aside from COVID-19, are there other things like it over the last 10 years that have had such a profound impact on the built environment?

Climate change and equity and racism have become more prominent issues. The design of the built environment, both redeveloping existing and building new buildings, neighborhoods and cities can have major impacts on these issues.

Who will find this book most useful? Did you have a specific audience in mind during the writing process, or does everyone including the general public have something they can take away from this book?

This book will appeal to anyone interested in making healthy places and improving their own physical environments. In particular, we hope built environment professionals including planners, architects, landscape architects, civil engineers, transportation professionals, real estate developers, public health professionals, and graduate and undergraduate students in public health and in design fields, will find it especially useful.

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

The built environment shapes physical and mental health and well-being over both the short and the long term. Policies and practices can influence the design of the built environment to promote health and equity, minimize adverse health impacts and health disparities, and maintain a sustainable balance between human needs and natural systems.

Biochar: Coral Reef of the Soil

Photo: Justin Roberts

For students at the University of Washington, discovering their academic and career passions is a journey of exploration, opportunity and learning. Justin Roberts knows this well. Justin is a third-year master of Landscape Architecture student. He spent a quarter abroad in Sweden as part of the  Valle Scholarship & Scandinavian Exchange Program, which funds student exchanges between the UW and Nordic countries. He is also the author of his new book, “Metabolic Matters: An Urban Designer’s Guide to Biochar,” where he explores how biochar, an incredibly sustainable material that can be made from any organic substance, can be used to tackle some of the most difficult challenges facing humans and ecosystems across the globe. This book was inspired by the many journeys Justin has taken in his life as a student, emerging landscape architect and passionate proponent of adopting more holistically sustainable practices into landscape design.

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CBE welcomes new cohort of faculty

In pursuit of our vision for a more just and beautiful world, the College of Built Environments is implementing an important part of our strategic framework: growing our capacity for collaborative interdisciplinary work with the goal of advancing climate solutions. We are excited to announce the first wave of CBE’s new faculty cohort! Each brings new strengths and perspectives and as a group, they have the potential to be an effective team who, together with the excellent faculty already at CBE, will accelerate the positive impact of our teaching, research, and engagement.

One of the most important steps in implementing the College of Built Environments strategic framework is growing our capacity for collaborative interdisciplinary work with the goal of advancing climate solutions which are at the heart of our vision for a more just and beautiful world. In the college, we invested in a search process to bring a cohort of faculty to add to our already collaborative culture. Over this academic year, we have invested time and energy in mapping out research and teaching opportunities that these new faculty could join or initiate and checking that our culture was as welcoming as possible. This led to understanding departmental priorities and areas of opportunity for promoting college-level strategic goals. The result was a wonderful dialogue leading to an unprecedented cohort hiring effort launched in the Autumn Quarter.

The search attracted applicants from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds and demographic diversity along many dimensions, including race, gender, and ethnicity. There were strong themes of using big data and machine learning to develop tools and processes to address disparities in built environments impacts as well as addressing climate mitigation. We were encouraged by the response to the call, yet realize there is much work still to be done. We are committed to continuing this work next year with additional searches, considering tenure-track and teaching-track opportunities. The compelling vision for the cohort attracted positive responses from across the world for applicants and nominations. Closer to home at UW, the Provost recognizes the hard work to develop our goals and initiate this search and he congratulates us on our success. The strength of our alignment with UW priorities created synergies that brought funding from sources such as the UW Office of Provost, Office of Research, Office of Faculty Advancement, Clean Energy Institute, and the Escience Institute.

The first of its kind for the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington, this faculty listing for an interdisciplinary cohort attracted applications from across the globe with a broad range of collaborative research and teaching interests. We are thrilled with the interest, and excited to welcome and support our new faculty who will continue to expand our capacity as we seek to develop opportunities for engaging and investing in our communities in an effort to build a more just and beautiful future.

– Ken Yocom, faculty lead for the cohort hire

The College of Built Environments is thrilled to welcome this esteemed cohort of new interdisciplinary faculty to our community. Read about each of the full-time tenure-track faculty below.


Narjes Abbasabadi

Narjes Abbasabadi, Ph.D., is an architect, researcher, and educator. Dr. Abbasabadi currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington. She earned her Ph.D. in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). She also holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in architecture from Tehran Azad University. Prior to joining UTA, she taught in the College of Architecture at IIT. Dr. Abbasabadi’s research investigates sustainability, environmental technologies, and computation in the built environment. Much of her work focuses on developing frameworks and tools to investigate urban building energy systems, human-energy interactions, ambient intelligence, and sensing to enable dynamic exploration of performance-driven and human-centered design. Her work has been published in premier journals, including Applied Energy, Building and Environment, Energy and Buildings, and Sustainable Cities and Society.

Dr. Abbasabadi received honors and awards, including “ARCC Dissertation Award Honorable Mention” (Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC), 2020), “Best Ph.D. Program Dissertation Award” (IIT CoA, 2019), and 2nd place in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Race to Zero Design Competition (DOE, 2018). In 2018, she organized the 3rd IIT CoA International Symposium on Buildings, Cities, and Performance. She served as editor of the third issue of Prometheus Journal, which received the 2020 Haskell Award from AIA New York, Center for Architecture. She has practiced with several firms and institutions and led design research projects such as developing national design codes and prototypes for low-carbon buildings. Most recently, she practiced as an architect with Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG), where she has been involved in major projects, including the 2020 World Expo.


Celina Balderas Guzmán

Landscape Architecture
Celina Balderas Guzmán works across environmental planning, design, and science on a diverse set of research projects broadly focused on water flows, particularly coastal climate adaptation, urban stormwater, and green infrastructure. In adaptation, Celina studies how shoreline strategies for sea level rise could shift socio-ecological vulnerabilities at a regional scale in the future. Specifically, she uses ecological modeling to examine the impacts of future shoreline hardening/softening on coastal wetlands and the communities that depend on them for coastal protection. By documenting these interactions, Celina’s research contributes to greater effectiveness in adaptation to sea level rise at a regional scale.

In urban stormwater, Celina studies how pollution relates to the urban form and human activity of watersheds using data science methods in collaboration with environmental scientists. Before studying its root causes, Celina developed green infrastructure designs to address stormwater pollution and flooding. In collaboration with environmental engineers, Celina created innovative designs for wetlands that combine hydraulic performance, ecological potential, and recreation into one landscape form.

Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, UC Berkeley, UC Berkeley Global Metropolitan Studies, and the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab. She is completing a PhD in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley in summer 2022. From MIT, she obtained two masters degrees in urban planning and urban design, as well as an undergraduate degree in architecture.


Dylan Stevenson

Urban Design and Planning
Dylan Stevenson’s (Prairie Band Potawatomi descent) research examines how culture informs planning strategies and influences land relationships. More specifically, he investigates how tribal epistemologies structure notions of Indigenous futurities by centering Indigenous cultural values at the forefront of environmental stewardship and cultural preservation. He is currently working on a project researching how governments (Federal, State, and Tribal) embed cultural values in Water Resources Planning strategies, drawing from ethnographic research he conducted in the joint territory of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. His other research interests include ecological restoration, intangible cultural heritage, and food systems planning. Previously, Dylan has worked for public and quasi-public entities dealing with the implementation and compliance of local, state, and federal legislation in California and has forthcoming work analyzing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives in planning programs.

Dylan is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. He earned his master’s degree in Planning with a concentration in Preservation and Design of the Built Environment from the University of Southern California, a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics with a minor in Native American Studies from the University of California—Davis, and an associate of arts degree in Liberal Arts from De Anza College.


Lingzi Wu

Construction Management
Dr. Lingzi Wu is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta. She graduated from Tianjin University with a dual degree in Civil Engineering and English in 2010 and obtained her MSc and PhD in Construction Engineering and Management from the University of Alberta in 2013 and 2020 respectively. Prior to her PhD, Dr. Wu worked in the residential construction sector as a site engineer with Changzhou Erjian from 2010 to 2011 and in the industrial construction sector as a project coordinator with PCL Industrial from 2013 to 2017.

An interdisciplinary scholar focused on advancing digital transformation in construction, Dr. Wu’s current research interests include (1) integration of advanced data analytics and complex system modeling to enhance construction practices and (2) development of human-in-the-loop decision support systems to improve construction performance (e.g., sustainability and safety). Dr. Wu has published 10 papers in top journals and conference proceedings, including the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering, and Automation in Construction. Her research and academic excellence notable recognition, including a “Best Paper Award” at the 17th International Conference on Modeling and Applied Simulation.

As an educator and mentor, Dr. Wu aims to create an inclusive, innovative, and interactive learning environment where students develop personal, technical, and transferable skills to grow today, tomorrow, and into the future. The effectiveness of her teaching is evidenced by students’ comments that can be found at https://xiaomoling.github.io/PersonalWebsite/#/teaching.


Ruoniu (Vince) Wang

Real Estate
Ruoniu (Vince) Wang joins CBE’s new faculty cohort from Grounded Solutions Network, a national nonprofit organization promoting inclusive communities through housing strategies with lasting affordability. In his capacity as the Research Director, Vince spearheads the organization’s research agenda to track the prevalence, practice, and impact of shared-equity homeownership programs. He compiled the first census of inclusionary housing in the U.S. and currently leads a census of community land trusts in North America.

More generally, Vince studies spatial justice and inclusive communities, including their impacts reflected in the built environment, human behaviors, and policy interventions. He was/is the PI/Co-PI of eight funded research projects totaling over $1 million. Vince grounds his research with applied tools to democratize data for low-income communities. His work has been published in academic journals such as the Journal of the American Planning Association, Urban Studies, Housing Studies, and Housing Policy Debate, as well as through other publishers such as Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Cityscape, and Shelterforce.

Vince received his masters and doctorate in Urban and Regional Planning with a minor in Real Estate from the University of Florida. In 2005, he spent one year at CBE as an undergraduate exchange student from China. Vince is excited about his new role as a scholar and educator that builds upon extensive professional experience in public, nonprofit, research, and for-profit sectors.

Furniture Studio Feature

2020 was a year that shifted how we did most things. This was no different for Associate Professor Kimo Griggs and his Furniture Studio, sponsored by the Scan Design Foundation in the College of Built Environments. See how they adapted in 2020 and beyond.