Meet the Healthy Buildings Team

Engineers, health experts and environmentalists. Researches and doctoral candidates. A forensic investigator of sick buildings. The Healthy Buildings team at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together experts across disciplines to holistically examine the impact of healthy buildings and drive the movement forward.

Joseph Allen, DSC, MPH, CIH headshot photo

Joseph Allen, DSC, MPH, CIH

Director of the Healthy Buildings Program

Dr. Joseph G. Allen is an associate professor and director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and co-author of Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity, with John Macomber at Harvard Business School. He began his career conducting forensic health investigations of sick buildings in several hundred buildings across a diverse range of industries, including healthcare, biotechnology, education, commercial office real estate and manufacturing.

At Harvard, Dr. Allen directs the Healthy Buildings program where he created ‘The 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building’. He is also the faculty advisor to the Harvard Healthier Building Materials Academy. He works with Fortune 500 companies on implementing Healthy Building strategies in their global portfolios and presents internationally on the topic of Healthy Buildings.

He is a commissioner for The Lancet Covid-19 Commission where he also Chairs The Lancet Covid-19 Commission Task Force on Safe Work, Safe School, and Safe Travel. His work has been featured widely in the popular press, including the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, National Geographic, Time, NPR, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Fortune and The New York Times. Dr. Allen is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology and an Associate Editor of the journal Indoor Air.

He earned his Doctor of Science (DSc) and Master of Public Health (MPH) degrees from the Boston University School of Public Health, and a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Biology from Boston College.

Anna Young, PHD, MS headshot photo

Anna Young, PHD, MS

Associate Director and Postdoctoral Fellow for the Healthy Buildings Program

Anna Young is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research focuses on healthier materials and products in buildings as a strategy to reduce our exposures to toxic chemicals. She recently earned her PhD in the department, where she conducted dissertation research about global exposures to chemicals in office buildings, the hormonal activities of building dust in cell assays due to chemicals, and the benefits of healthier materials interventions to reduce toxic chemical loads in buildings. She has sought to advance several exposure assessment methods, including the uses of cell assays on dust to assess “building health”, silicone wristbands to sample people’s chemical exposures in buildings, and portable instruments to non-destructively scan products for chemical indicators.

Anna also holds an MS in Environmental Health from the Harvard Chan School and a BA in Computer Science and Environmental Studies from Yale University.

Parham Azimi, PhD, ScD, MSC headshot photo

Parham Azimi, PhD, ScD, MSC

Post Doctoral Fellow for the Healthy Buildings Program

His research focuses on fate, transport, and control of indoor aerosols of indoor and ambient origin, transmission risk of airborne infectious diseases, chronic health impacts of fine particles in various microenvironments, and energy performance of residential and commercial buildings. Currently, he is working on estimating and mapping global health and climate co-benefits of energy saving in buildings, evaluating transmission risks of airborne infectious diseases including influenza, measles, and coronaviruses in schools and healthcare centers and effectiveness of infection control strategies, and characterizing harmful emissions from e-cigarettes.

Dr. Azimi joined the Healthy Buildings Program in 2019 after two years of working as a research associate in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he also received his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering in 2016. He earned his M.Sc. degree in Environmental Engineering in 2012 and a B.Sc. degree in Civil Engineering in 2010 both from the Department of Civil Engineering at Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran.

Sandra Dedesko, MS headshot photo

Sandra Dedesko, MS

PhD Student with the Healthy Buildings Program

Sandra is a PhD student in the Population Health Sciences program at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research interests center on indoor air quality and building design strategies that improve occupant health outcomes. Sandra’s past research experience includes investigating the influence of residential ventilation factors on the severity of asthma symptoms in children as part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Healthy Homes Program, as well as two projects under the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Microbiology of the Built Environment Program, which include exploring the effects of indoor envoronmental factors on the progression of microbial communities in a new hospital and examining the relationship between indoor moisture and fungal growth on building materials.

Before coming to Harvard, Sandra worked in the sustainable building design industry as an engineering consultant while also developing and delivering education through the University of Toronto, the Canada Green Building Council, and the International Well Building Institute. Sandra holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Applied Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Toronto

Mahala Lahvis headshot photo

Mahala Lahvis

Research Assistant with the Healthy Buildings Program

Mahala is currently a senior at Brandeis University studying International & Global Studies and Environmental Studies. As a research assistant at Healthy Buildings, she is focused on the Co-Benefits of Built Environment (CoBE) tool, working alongside Parichehr in analyzing energy savings and health and climate co-benefits of improving sustainability in the built environment. She has also started water savings-related research. Her interests include sustainable cities and international sustainable development.

Naila Segule headshot photo

Naila Segule

Master’s Student with the Healthy Buildings Program

Naila is a Master’s student in Environmental Health at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She is a National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholar who focused on restoring and improving urban infrastructure. Her research interests include the built environment, pollution, and environmental health disparities. Her previous research experience includes assisting on the GenX Exposure Study in North Carolina, studying non-iodine risk factors for thyroid disease in Armenia as an NIH MHIRT Fellow, presenting her independent research on trans-inclusive health care at the UNC System Universities at the 64th UN Commission on the Status of Women, and co-authoring a paper on lead and spices in NC. Naila recently graduated from North Carolina State University/UNC-Chapel Hill with a dual-degree in BS Biomedical Engineering and a second degree in BS Interdisciplinary Studies in Global Health Communication and Development from NCSU. Naila is a member of the USAID Donald M. Payne Fellowship Class of 2020. After her Master’s, she will work for five years at USAID as a Foreign Service Health Officer.

Parichehr Salimifard, PhD headshot photo

Parichehr Salimifard, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow for the Healthy Buildings Program

Dr. Parichehr Salimifard’s research interests fit under the umbrella of built environment with crossovers to fluid dynamics, aerosol science, energy efficiency, sustainability, environmental health, and statistics.

In her postdoctoral research, Parichehr has been focused on Co-benefits of Built Environment (CoBE), investigating the energy savings, emissions reductions, and health and climate co-benefits of improving the sustainability in built environment. Currently, she is leading the development of the next versions of Harvard CoBE tool and its various modules including co-benefits of specific climate policies, water savings co-benefits of built environment, energy conservation pathway optimization, and building-to-grid integration.

Parichehr’s doctoral research was focused on aerosols dynamics and sensing; more specifically on particle transport, deposition, and resuspension, and aerosol sensing and size characterization. During her M.Sc., she worked on building energy modeling which involved part-load energy modeling of building subsystems and investigating the trade-offs between the energy conservation measures installation and indoor air quality.

Parichehr holds a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on fluid mechanics and heat transfer from Persian Gulf University, Iran. She earned her M.Sc. in Architectural Engineering – Mechanical Option with minor in Computational Science in 2014 at Penn State University, where she also earned her Ph.D. in Architectural Engineering – Mechanical Option in 2018

Jose Vallarino headshot photo

Jose Vallarino

Project Engineer with the Healthy Buildings Program

Jose Vallarino is a project engineer in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He has over 25 years’ experience managing exposure studies focused on indoor and ambient environmental air quality. He has collaborated in research projects in the US, Africa, Asia and Europe. He, provides oversight of sampling protocols, designs monitoring platforms, and serves as the QA officer for several HSPH research center grants. He also provides guidance on research administration in areas of Human Subjects, Data Use Agreements and Data Security.

Shivani Parikh headshot photo

Shivani Parikh

Master’s Student with the Healthy Buildings Program

Shivani is a Master’s student in Environmental Health and concentrator in Maternal and Child Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her interests center on leveraging translational research to reduce racial health disparities manifest in the built environment. She hopes that this work can bridge the existing gap between communities, private organizations, and government, ultimately creating healthier physical and social environments for people to live.

Shivani recently graduated from Haverford College with dual-degrees in Chemistry and Health & Societies and has worked with the Science Research team at Propeller Health for several years. During that time, she conducted research aiming to understand the relationship between environmental and social determinants of chronic respiratory disease and its role in the development of more accessible digital health solutions. She has also been involved in developing health economic content for providers and payers on the benefits of using digital health solutions in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic respiratory disease and obstructive sleep apnea. After her Master’s, Shivani intends to earn her PhD in Environmental Health and become a leader in community-based participatory research.

Zahra Keshavarz, MSC headshot photo

Zahra Keshavarz, MSC

Research Assistant with the Healthy Buildings Program

Her research focuses on the assessment of hazardous emissions from electronic-cigarettes including various aldehydes and methylglyoxal and transmission and control of airborne infectious diseases such as measles and coronavirus in various micro-environments.

Zahra holds a B.Sc. in civil engineering and an M.Sc. in structural engineering. Her graduate research work was focused on applications of artificial intelligence techniques in predicting building characteristics. She also has a background in indoor environmental engineering. Before joining the for-Health team, Zahra worked as an indoor air consultant at the company Indoor Science in Chicago, IL.

Emily Jones, PhD, MSE headshot photo

Emily Jones, PhD, MSE

PhD Student with the Healthy Buildings Program

Emily (Gilson) Jones is a doctoral candidate in the Population Health Sciences program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences where her coursework and research focus on ways in which buildings affect our health. Before coming to Harvard, she worked as an environmental consultant specializing in groundwater remediation and environmental data science. She also has experience performing research into different aspects of environmental fate and transport, including greenhouse gas dynamics in wetlands, stability and speciation of metals in wetlands with implications for bioremediation, and environmental functions of bacteria. She earned her Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) degree from Princeton University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2015 and her Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Environmental Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013.

Memo Cedeno Laurent, DSC headshot photo

Memo Cedeno Laurent, DSC

Postdoctoral Fellow

Memo is a research associate at the department of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His research focuses on developing tools that leverage the data collection potential for mobile health quasi-experimental studies of the built environment. He has conducted research that advances the understanding of mechanisms by which climate changed-related environmental exposures impact health, productivity, and safety; provides evidence linking energy efficiency opportunities in buildings to public health co-benefits; and provides disaster response resources to characterize environmental exposures and evaluate their health effects during and after critical events. Currently, Memo is coordinating research efforts on exposure to chemicals and health through the Marilyn Hoffman Program, which aims to advance our understanding of the health consequences of chemicals and other toxins, especially among vulnerable populations.

Memo holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Monterrey Tech and worked in the automotive industry in both Mexico and Germany. He then received a M.S. degree in Energy Engineering from Aachen University, in Germany. In 2014, he graduated from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health with a Sc.D. degree in Environmental Health.

Maya Bliss headshot photo

Maya Bliss

Research Coordinator for the Healthy Buildings Program

Maya joined the Healthy Buildings team as a research assistant and transitioned to Research Coordinator in 2019, where she oversees the administrative tasks for the team, including the summer program. Her participation in research includes helping facilitate the logistics for the Global COGfx Study and the Firefighter research, for which she manages communication with participants and key contacts and study development logistics. Maya also helps manage the implementation of the team’s AppLab platform, both internally and to advise with the setup of external projects. She earned her B.Sc. from Brandeis University where she studied Health: Science, Society, and Policy and Environmental Studies.

The future of healthy buildings must be one where they are the norm, not the exception. Health cannot and should not be a luxury item, afforded to only those that can afford it. This applies to healthcare, working conditions, access to food, and, yes, the buildings where we live, work, play, pray, and heal.
JOSEPH ALLEN, DSC, MPH, CIH, Director of the Healthy Buildings Program
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Our goal is to improve the lives of all people, in all buildings, everywhere, every day.
A healthy building is a human right.

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