Lesa strengthens Gresham Smith’s healthcare planning and design through research and insights. She collaborates with the healthcare team to conduct research on human-centered design and develop scalable tools for knowledge sharing among healthcare planners and designers. Using design thinking strategies, she helps clients and project teams identify opportunities for evidence-based design research and strategically implement research projects.
Lesa also develops external collaborative partnerships and she has collaborated on research funded by the Veterans Health Administration and the American Institute of Architects. She was the principal investigator for a clinical trial with the VA investigating multisensory environments for people with dementia, which resulted in the Environmental Design Research Association’s Certificate of Research Excellence. Additionally, her research at Gresham Smith-designed Tallahassee Memorial Hospital M.T. Mustian Center on how evidence-based design strategies can decrease sensory stress in intensive care units earned the project team a Platinum-Level Touchstone Award from The Center for Health Design. Her impressive list of additional research projects also includes a study at UF Health North using behavior mapping to determine if the built environment can reduce nurse burnout, as well as a study on the impact of operating room acoustics on staff performance.
Lesa contributes her applied research expertise as a member of the Environmental Design Research Association’s Board of Directors and as a member of Vital by Design, which is part of a research consortium at University of Florida’s College of Design, Construction and Planning. She has shared her insights at numerous conferences, including the Healthcare Design Conference & Expo, the Environmental Design Research Association’s Annual Conference, the Environments for Aging Expo & Conference, and her research has been published in a variety of publications, including Healthcare Design magazine and the Health Environments Research & Design Journal.
A designer by training and licensure, Lesa earned a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design at Wentworth Institute of Technology. She also earned a Master in Business Administration from Simmons College and a Master of Science in Architecture with a specialization in interior design from University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She also earned her Ph.D. at the University of Florida in its College of Design, Construction & Planning.