Kristi Gaines

2020 Distinguished Research Award Recipient

Kristi Gaines is an associate professor of design at Texas Tech University, where she also serves as associate dean of the Graduate School.

Through research that investigates ways built environments can accommodate diverse populations through design, Gaines has achieved national recognition as a leader in designing learning environments and other spaces for individuals with sensory sensitivities and developmental disorders. She is also co-founder of the Texas Tech University Coalition for Natural Learning.

Gaines’ book, Designing for Autism Spectrum Disorders is recognized throughout the design community and received awards from the four leading organizations for interior design: the Environmental Design Research Association, the American Society of Interior Designers, the Interior Design Educators Council and the International Interior Design Association.

With more than two decades of professional interior design and teaching experience, Gaines has served in national leadership roles in industry organizations including the Interior Design Education Council and the International Interior Design Association. She has been recognized with awards for teaching, research and service and is an inaugural graduate of the President’s Leadership Institute at Texas Tech University.

Published in numerous academic journals, Gaines’ research investigates the impact of learning environments in the United States, United Kingdom and Malawi, Africa. A current project combines neuroscience and augmented reality visualization using fMRI technology to compare the behavioral and neural responses for neurodiverse populations. She has also teamed up with researchers in apparel design and manufacturing to develop functional clothing for children with sensory integrative dysfunction.

Gaines received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as a doctorate in interior and environmental design from Texas Tech University.