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Shan Jiang

Shan and her family.


Right now I’m actually on Sabbatical to write a book. It is about hospital design and contact to nature from within a hospital. The title is “Therapeutic Landscapes through a Hospital Window.” I’m working on it and I’m on track, but there is just a lot more than I expected from writing a book. 


My research emphasis is on therapeutic landscapes like healing gardens and evidence based design. That’s using the best available data and research to support design decisions. That’s mainly my research area and design of public open spaces for healthy lifestyle and public health.  


What I found from a designers perspective, designing an environment or even a product has more meaning than pure aesthetics and visual pleasure. There are more profound impacts on your everyday life and even health. That’s what I found most important in my area: through design and design of the environment can promote peoples’ health status. That’s a very meaningful goal in my area. 

What have you done in your home to promote health through design?

I have some plants. I have good lighting. I set up my work station next to a window. I think that's very important. And my husband’s work station is set up next to a window as well. Having the contact, even visually, to nature outside will be very helpful. I always have some fresh flowers in my home on my dining table. It’s just something for when you go inside and you look at the plants, you get cheered up.

What jobs did you have before coming to WVU?

I was working as a student instructor at Clemson University before joining WVU. Prior to that, I practiced shortly as a landscape designer in China. I was a part time landscape designer in two firms in China before my pursuit of the doctoral degree.

What has been the best or most enjoyable time/class/moment in your education?

I think it’s the moment I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation. I was called a doctor and I think it was a highlight of my life. It was definitely not easy to get a doctoral degree, but I think all the foort and the work were worth it when I made that achievement. I think that was the best moment, but I was consistently supported by many people. Many of my professors and advisors were all very supportive, and I felt supported along every stage of my education. 

What’s one thing you wish you had known in college? 

For me it’s a little bit special because I spent most of my time and study in China. I came to the U.S.  about 10 years ago. So when I was in college, it was back in China actually. I wish I could have known more about the outside world to have been more prepared for when I came to the U.S. I wish I could have been more culturally prepared without focusing too much on my own studies.

What is something you recently learned?

I found many interesting facts or I learned a lot of new knowledge about kids and childcare from the experience working with my daughter, taking care of her and learning to listen to a child to learn what’s in their mind. They’re different from adults for sure, but I just realize how vivid and how much information she can actually absorb. It’s more than I expected. She has been talking and having very interesting conversations with me that I’ve found really inspiring. I think I’ve learned a lot from her through staying with her every day and learning how to control myself, my mood and working with her - I think that’s a whole new world. She’s young. She’s four and a half years old. I think she transferred from the toddler stage - only mumbling and not talking much - to now it’s a stage that she’s learning so fast.

If you won a billion dollars, what would you do with the money?

I would travel and bring my family to travel a lot to see different cultures across the world. I think I’d go everywhere new to me - historically, culturally. We’ve been so fascinated about Egyptian cultures and history. If I could have the time and the capacity to go to one place, I would go to Egypt with my family. But many more, even just states and places in China that I never realized were so cool until I was here. 


I’d also use some of the money to set up a foundation. I’ve been wanting to have a foundation or a trust to  sponsor activities in research, in higher education or just for good matters I think.

What were you most grateful for in 2020?

Nothing happened dramatically with the health of my family. I feel blessed by how healthy and safe we all were and are now still. I think that’s the best part. I think the good health is everything out of 2020 and Covid. My view is to be happy and healthy and fulfilled every day, and I think that’s enough beyond any other.

What have you been surprised by in 2021?

I’m looking forward to returning to normal, but I doubt it. It’s not like trauma, like that severe, but it’s something that deeply impacted everybody. It’s been a year with so many uncertainties.  I think we will never truly return to the age prior to Covid, but I hope we can have normal life, normal traveling and have face-to-face conversations. I really look forward to that.


Just for Fun

What are you currently reading? The Spaces of the Hospital, Spatiality and Urban Change in London 1680-1820

What’s your favorite meal? Spicy hot pot

What’s a song that you can listen to on repeat? Taylor Swift

What’s one thing you can’t live without? Love from my family