Texas Tech University

Interior and Environmental Design alumna’s research positively impacts lives through furniture design

By Ashley Ryan, College of Human Sciences Marketing and Communications

Dr. Shabboo Valipoor evaluates patient seating designs for the elderly population


2016 Interior and Environmental Design alumna, Shabboo Valipoor, Shabboo ValipoorPh.D., continues to pursue innovative research in every step of her career. Shabboo has dedicated her educational career to exploring the interaction between people and their surrounding spaces to inform the design of healthcare facilities and environments for the elderly.

Originally from Iran, Shabboo studied at the Art University of Tehran where she obtained her B.A. in Industrial Design. Shabboo also studied at the University Teknologi MARA in Malaysia and earned her M.A. in Art and Design before pursuing her doctoral degree in the Texas Tech University Interior and Environmental Design program.

Following her graduation from the College of Human Sciences (COHS) with a Ph.D. in Interior and Environmental Design, Shabboo journeyed to the University of Florida where she now works as an assistant professor in the Department of Interior Design.

Shabboo describes her goals as an educator and researcher.

"As an educator, my goal is to create an environment that fosters a love of learning and helps students become responsible decision-makers. As a researcher, my aim is to address more complicated issues in the realm of the built environment. I have enjoyed exploring ways of creating safer and healthier environments, and my intent is to continue examining the impact of environmental factors on occupants' physiological and psychological health and wellbeing."

Shabboo says that while at the COHS, the Department of Design helped her further her passion for research in academia.

"My professors were incredible role models to me in approaching academic research. I had a chance to work with scholars within and beyond the college in multidisciplinary studies that prepared me for my dissertation and my current position."

Shabboo ValipoorShabboo was involved in numerous noteworthy studies in the COHS but one in particular stands out in her mind. Shabboo says she was fortunate to work with Dr. Debajyoti Pati to research ways of ensuring patient safety in hospital rooms through proper design and layout.

In her dissertation, Shabboo says that she focused on studying ways to decrease the risk of falling among elderly patients in hospitals. An Objective Evaluation of Patient Seating Solutions for the Elderly Population investigates how to reduce elderly patient falls in hospital rooms through proper patient seating.

Shabboo explains that patient seating is often a critical point in patients' transition to an independent and functional status. Shabboo's study examined the impact of changing the horizontal and vertical position of armrests in a test chair on physical effort during Stand-to-Sit-to-Stand transitions among fifteen elderly women.

To preform her study, Shabboo collaborated with the Department of Kinesiology and Sport Management at Texas Tech with sponsorship by Herman Miller, Inc. Herman Miller, Inc. was kind enough to supply Shabboo with a test chair that allowed her to examine the impact of changing the armrest designs on physical effort.

Shabboo says that her findings showed that changing armrest location in a patient chair has an opposite impact on arm and leg muscles of the elderly. It was also found that the optimum levels of armrest height and distance are higher and wider than those levels in typical manufactured patient chairs in the market.

Shabboo offers a word of advice for those who wish to pursue a similar field.

"In this field, you may not become a surgeon to save lives, or an Shabboo Valipoorengineer to devise solutions for air pollution, or a political leader to end wars, but you will learn how to make big changes in the world by creating environments that keep people safe, healthy, and happy."