Sue Weidemann, Ph.D., President and Director of Research, BOSTI Associates, is a 2014 recipient of the EDRA Career Award.
Dr. Weidemann is an environmental psychologist who, for over four decades, has studied the relationships between people and the places and spaces they use, through her research, teaching, and consulting. Her primary contribution to advancing environmental design research has been the development and application of quantitative research tools. Over the years she has exhibited what it means to be methodologically rigorous, while at the same time being open to new ideas about the tools and strategies available for the conduct of research.
Another exceptional quality of Dr. Weidemann’s career is her skill as a mentor. Students and colleagues have come to her over the years for research guidance and advice. Dr. Weidemann’s mentorship abilities reflect her sincere interest in the questions, projects, and lives of students and colleagues. In her role as a mentor to students, she served as advisor and committee member to countless Masters of Landscape Architecture students at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and also on many student thesis committees.
Dr. Weidemann has contributed to the development of theory and concepts that underlie many facets of environmental design research, particularly in the fields of housing and office design. She is perhaps less recognized individually for these contributions since her work is primarily team-based. Weidemann believes that environmental design research benefits from collaborative activity, and has demonstrated this perspective in her involvement on many multidisciplinary research teams, helping team members to work seamlessly together.
At the University of Illinois, Dr. Weidemann taught research-based design decision-making for 25 years. During that time, she authored or coauthored more than 40 publications. Through her cutting edge research on housing, new survey instruments were developed for assessing residential satisfaction. Her projects have received national awards including the American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Awards for applied design research (four awards), Progressive Architecture magazine’s annual awards program (two awards), and the National Endowment for the Arts Honors Award for Exemplary Achievement in Design Research.
When Dr. Weidemann joined BOSTI Associates as Director of Research in 1994, her work focused on the workplace, quantitatively measuring the effects of workplace design upon important business metrics such as job satisfaction, team performance, and the productivity of office workers. These measures allowed BOSTI to identify those qualities of the workplace that have the strongest effects on these business metrics, enabling the prioritization of aspects of the workplace which would lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
Weidemann developed BOSTI's data-gathering methods, supervising data collection, analysis, and interpretation. The resulting analyses led directly to development of concepts which were incorporated, through collaborative work with designers, clients, and their other consultants, into the design and planning of high-performance workplaces. She also collected data across a wide variety of projects and client situations to create and maintain a large experiential database (now containing data from over 15,000 workers in diverse industries) for use in BOSTI Associates' research.
After retiring from BOSTI in 2007, Dr. Weidemann moved back to the academic realm, and is currently teaching at University at Buffalo (SUNY), participating in selective research, and collaborating with various firms and individuals.
Weidemann was a past EDRA Board member, was on the Editorial Board of Research Design Connections, and currently chairs the EDRA/Urban Communication Foundation Michael Brill Grant in Urban Communication and Environmental Design jury.
Dr. Weidemann’s pioneering research on housing satisfaction and office design, her landmark, award-winning studies, and her contributions to social science research methods and their application to pressing design problems – using sophisticated methods of data analysis - are truly exceptional, and make her extremely deserving of the 2014 EDRA Career Award.