In Sandy Bay, Jamaica, the first in a series of health clinic prototypes was built by modifying a shipping container. This project was designed to deliver telemedical services with a focus on eye care and is part of a broader research effort at the University of Michigan to bring technology-enabled chronic health care monitoring to remote and underserved populations globally.
Number of people estimated to be visually impaired worldwide
Of the world’s visually impaired population live in remote and underserved areas and low-income settings
Of the population (1.4 million) in Jamaica are anticipated to not receive vision care in their lifetimes
In partnership with the Kellogg Eye Center, Eye Health Institute (EHI), and the Jamaican Ministry of Health, the first CommonHealth+ prototype was developed, prefabricated, and shipped to Jamaica in the spring of 2016, where it is now operated by EHI in partnership with local authorities. The work is part of a broader research effort at the University of Michigan, entitled Deep Monitoring which, with support from the Provost’s Third Century Global Challenges initiative, aims to deliver technology- enabled health monitoring for chronic health care issues to remote and underserved populations globally.
As part of this effort, the design team was tasked with developing a strategy for the repurposing of industrial shipping containers to produce that spatial framework within which chronic care solutions would be delivered. While the larger design research project includes a range of clinic types, functionalities, and scales of operation, the first prototype consisted of a single 20’x8’ container housing a refraction office and lens grinding facility, intended to enhance care options already being delivered in less formal clinic settings by EHI during the past 20 years. The unit is insulated, climate controlled, and dehumidified to address not only comfort, but also issues of technical equipment lifespan in humid tropical locations. A generous shaded porch area serves as a waiting ‘room’, and solar PV modules are grid-tied to power operations and produce a modest income stream during periods of low energy demand.
A key idea within the CommonHealth+ program is to structure each clinic in such a way as to produce models of public space, and support community activities. In the case of this prototype, the porch provides an internet hotspot and provides a framework for video projections, programmed variously to support health-related learning, and collective leisure activities.
Prefabrication of the units was undertaken by subcontractors in Illinois and Michigan, and assembled for shipping along with an extensive load of medical equipment, supplies and flat-packed interior fittings in Ann Arbor. When ready, the unit entered the global logistics chain and was shipped to port in Kingston, JM. A team of local contractors assembled the structure within four days, at which point it was ready for operations by visiting medical teams from both EHI and local care-givers.
Using wearable-based technology to help seniors stay mobile and age in place, while avoiding exposure to falls and environmental risks or hazards.
Improving Benton Harbor’s aging water system using risk assessment and risk analysis techniques, as well as mobile sensors.
Using remote sensing and security camera data to better understand how people are using the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy public spaces.
The Sensors in a Shoebox project focuses on empowering Detroit youth as agents of change for their city.
The Great Lakes Water Authority is looking for ways to rehabilitate large diameter water mains without actually having to dig up city streets.
A PFAS treatment approach for groundwater using low-temperature plasma with a concentration phase
The University of Michigan is developing a structural reliability framework to quantify the probability of failure of pipe segments throughout the GLWA system.
The city of Benton Harbor wishes to transform Ox Creek into a residential, recreational and commercial centerpiece linking important segments of the community.
While parks are designed and managed to generate community benefits, there remains a need for tools that can more rigorously measure how communities use parks.
Collecting travel data to help Benton Harbor improve travel options for residents, with the goal of increased employment participation and retention.
Rethinking how transit infrastructure can expand access to food, health, learning, and mobility services by creating multimodal hubs.
A grassroots train-the-trainer program on how to install, operate and maintain faucet-mounted point-of-use filters to protect for lead in drinking water.
The project aims to reduce energy use of vehicular travels by incentivizing individual travelers to adjust travel choices and driving behaviors.
Mapping detailed geographies of digital access and exclusion across Detroit’s neighborhoods.
Robots are anticipated to make the global construction industry safer and more attractive to workers, easing a worker shortage in the United States.
Associate Professor of Architecture
Associate Dean for Creative Practice
Geoffrey Thün is Associate Professor of Architecture and Associate Dean for Research and Creative Practice at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan where he teaches design studios, courses in urban systems, site operations and material systems. He is a founding partner in the research-based practice RVTR. He holds an M.UD from the University of Toronto, and a Professional BArch and BES from the University of Waterloo.
Thün’s work ranges in scale from that of the regional territory and the city, to high performance buildings, to full-scale prototype-based work exploring responsive and kinetic envelopes that mediate energy, atmosphere, and social space. These operational scales are tied together through a methodology that entails a complex systems approach; one that assembles around each project a multiplicity of agents, forces and contexts and leverages these multivalent and sometimes contradictory agents towards integrated and synthetic design work. His academic research has attracted external funding from the U.S. Department of Energy / National Renewable Energy Laboratory (DOE/NREL), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Research Council of Canada (NRCan), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) and Ford Motor Company. Geoffrey is also a co-founder of the Urban Collaboratory.
Associate Dean for Research and Creative Practice
Kathy Velikov is Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Creative Practice at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. She is a licensed Architect and founding partner of the research-based practice rvtr (www.rvtr.com), and the Vice President of ACADIA (Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture). Her work investigates and experiments with the intertwinements across architecture, the environment, technology, and sociopolitics through design methods that mobilize systems-based approaches and computational design. Her work ranges from material prototypes that explore environment-aware behavioral building skin assemblies, to high-performance building design, to research on urbanism, infrastructure, and territorial practices explored through techniques of mapping and analysis, speculative design propositions, installations, and writing. Most recent work has focused on material ecologies and on social infrastructure and environmental justice in multiscalar urban design. Her academic research has been funded by U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ontario Power Authority, the AIA Upjohn Research Initiative, Guardian Industries, and Ford Motor Company.
She is co-editor of Ambiguous Territory: Architecture, Landscape, and the Postnatural (Actar, 2021) and co-author of Infra Eco Logi Urbanism (Park Books, 2015). Both projects have been developed as traveling exhibitions co-curated and co-produced by Velikov and exhibited in galleries in New York City, Ithaca, Charlottesville, Toronto, Montreal, New Haven, Knoxville, and Ann arbor. Her work and writing has been published in numerous journals and book chapters. Honors include the ACSA/AIA Housing Design Education Award (2020), the Technology + Architecture Design (TAD) Journal Research Contribution Award (2020), two R&D Awards from Architecture Magazine (2010, 2016), a Journal of Architectural Education Best Design as Research Article (2013), the Architizer A+ Award Program’s Architecture + Sound Jury Award (2013), the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Faculty Design Award (2012, 2014), a Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Award of Excellence for Innovation in the Practice of Architecture (2011), the Canadian Professional Prix de Rome (2009), the Architectural League of New York’s Young Architect’s Forum Award (2008), and the Oberdick Fellowship at Taubman College (2006-07)
At Taubman College, Kathy teaches Architecture design studio, thesis, ecology and technology seminars, and in the Master of Science in Digital and Material Technologies.
Professor of Human Genetics
Interim Chair of Human Genetics
Dr. David Burke is a faculty member in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. His work has focused on interdisciplinary research that integrates mammalian and human genetics with advances in engineering. Recently, this effort is attempting to bring low cost health technologies to clinics and clinical researchers, with a focus is on developing technologies that are readily manufactured, robust, and can be distributed to underserved populations. He currently serves as Interim Chair of the Department.
Assistant Professor of Ophthamology and Vistual Sciences
Dr. Newman-Casey is a clinical ophthalmologist who specializes in the medical and surgical management of glaucoma. She is an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. She completed medical school (2007), residency (2011) and fellowship (2013) at the University of Michigan. She holds a master’s degree in Health Services Research (University of Michigan, 2012). Her current research on developing and testing technology based behavioral interventions to improve glaucoma self-management support. She is also interested in how operations engineering techniques can be used to improve patient’s experience in clinic and identify ways to integrate more education into patients’ clinical encounters. Her research is funded by a K23 Career Development Award from the National Eye Institute and a Research to Prevent Blindness Career Development Award.
Executive Director of MCubed and Research Innovation
Professor of Chemical Engineering
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Prof. Mark A. Burns is the Executive Director of Mcubed and Research Innovation in the Office of the Vice President for Research and the T. C. Chang Professor of Engineering. He joined the University of Michigan in 1990 after teaching at the University of Massachusetts for 4 years. He obtained his MS and PhD degrees in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and his BS degree from the University of Notre Dame.
Prof. Burns has over 300 publications, patents, and presentations. He is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He has won numerous awards including the Food, Pharmaceutical, and Bioengineering Division Award from AIChE, and both a Research Excellence Award and a Teaching Excellence Award from the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. He was the founding director of an Institutional Training Grant from the National Institutes of Health on Microfluidics in Biomedical Sciences, a program that involves over 40 faculty from 14 different departments from across the University and is the only one of its kind in the country. Prof. Burns is also the Executive Director and one of the co-founders of the innovative seed-funding program at Michigan called Mcubed. The program has funded over 450 faculty and student teams, and results from these teams has generated over $100M of external research funding.
Dr. Joseph Myers is a Windsor, Ontario native and Canadian resident who crosses an international border daily for his work and research pursuits in Ann Arbor, MI, USA. He has been practicing Optometry at the University of Michigan for 30 years. He graduated with MCO from Ferris State University College of Optometry in 1988. He is presently part of the University’s “Third Century Initiative,” researching and providing advanced health care to underserved populations around the world. In this capacity, he serves as an investigator for the Common Health Plus, Container-to-Clinic pilot project. Dr. Myers was a co-founder (with Dr. Richard Cross) of the Eye Health Institute which has served the eye care needs of the residents in Hanover Parish, Jamaica. He is married to Lilly Perdomo and has 3 children.
Assistant Professor of Ophthamology and Vistual Sciences
Dr. Maria Woodward is a physician-scientist focused on healthcare delivery specifically for the anterior segment of the eye. Her career goal is to dramatically extend high-quality, affordable eye care to underserved and under-represented communities nationally and globally. Funded by a National Eye Institute K23 grant, much of Dr. Woodward’s research focuses on novel ophthalmic technologies and eHealth clinical programs – particularly disease-monitoring tools with low acquisition and delivery costs. Her research goal is to personalize treatments much earlier and more accurately in order to improve outcomes. Additionally, Dr. Woodward is the co-director of the University of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Center eHealth at and the director of Telemedicine and Clinical Programs. She serves on the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Research, Regulatory & External Scientific Relations Committee and American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Telemedicine Task Force. She collaborates with national and international leaders in telemedicine, cornea, health sciences, and engineering, including close collaboration with Aravind Eye Hospitals in India.