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Ann Devlin has spent more than four decades discovering new ways to make the spaces in which patients and health care professionals interact more comfortable, welcoming and effective. Now, she’s being recognized for her body of work with the prestigious 2020 Career Award from the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA).
Devlin, who serves as the May Buckley Sadowski ’19 Professor of Psychology, joined Connecticut College in 1973 and began her association with EDRA that same year—a relationship she says has helped shape her research and influence her teaching. The positive impact of her work may not be as immediately obvious as the activities of the doctors, nurses and other professionals who operate within the spaces she helps design, but it’s essential to the ways we engage many spaces that are so often associated with stressful and emotionally challenging experiences.
“My work is fundamentally geared toward improving the built environment to enhance people’s lives, whether it is improving wayfinding cues for hospital patients or communicating multicultural welcomeness in the design of therapists’ offices,” Devlin said, adding that, over the years, her students have made valuable contributions to her research.
“I think it is noteworthy that many of my publications include undergraduate co-authors, and the quality of the student body at Conn has made that possible,” she said.
Devlin attended her first annual EDRA conference in 1973, and immediately valued the connections she was able to establish with other researchers who focused on the designed environment. The conferences, held in different cities each year, also involved field trips to notable spaces that served as strong examples of how evidence-based psychological design can tangibly improve the patient experience. Those fieldtrips allowed Devlin to gather a treasure trove of photographs of well-designed spaces to use in her classes at Conn, and the conferences provided opportunities to publish work she had done in collaboration with her student research groups.
Devlin is a prolific writer. She’s written six books, published more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has authored a number of book chapters. She also formerly served as editor-in-chief of the professional journal, Environment and Behavior. During her time at Conn, Devlin has been recognized with multiple faculty excellence awards, including the John S. King Faculty Teaching Award, the Helen Brooks Regan Faculty Leadership Award, and the Nancy Batson Nisbet Rash Faculty Award for Excellence in Research.
A past board member of the EDRA, Devlin said she was humbled by the award and looks forward to continuing her involvement and collaboration with the organization.
“In so many important ways, EDRA has shaped my career, and I am honored to be a recipient of this career award,” she said.