Human Factors and Ergonomics

Human factors and ergonomics research is the application of our understanding of the capabilities and limitations of human beings in the design of the workplace and consumer items. Current emphasis areas in IMSE include 1) physical ergonomics with a particular focus on spine biomechanics, prevention of low back injury and hand/wrist disorders such as tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome and 2) cognitive engineering with a focus on augmented human performance and human computer interaction.

Faculty Expertise

Michael Dorneich portrait

Michael Dorneich

Joseph Walkup Professor in Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering

Dr. Dorneich oversees the Adaptive Cognitive Systems Lab. His research group studies cognitive engineering issues in the design of joint human-computer systems that adapt to the user, adapt to the environment, and adapt to the current situation.

Research interests:

  • Can we create smart systems? The more automation can sense what is going on, the more it can reason about the situation, and the more it knows about the state of the user, the better decisions it can make on how to help best.
  • Can we make machines adapt to us, instead of us adapting to them? Systems that adapt and tailor their behavior to the current situation can augment human strengths and mitigate human weaknesses.

Stephen Gilbert

Stephen Gilbert


Dr. Gilbert’s research focuses on advanced learning and cognition. The Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC) is vital for this research, housing virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and physiological sensors and equipment.

Research interests:

  • Can we improve the way you learn with technology? Cognitive models. Intelligent tutoring systems. Just-in-time personalized training. Dr. Gilbert’s tools help people learn faster and deeper.
  • Can we create natural systems? Data visualization to make the right decisions. The machine does just what I intended. Our software feels like a natural extension of your mind and body.

Jundi Liu

Jundi Liu

Assistant Professor

Dr. Liu oversees the Human-Centered Interactive Autonomy Lab. His research group leverages human-in-the-loop reinforcement learning and trustworthy machine learning algorithms to design human-centered and trust-aware customized autonomy.

Research interests:

  • Can we model human cognition and behavior formally and holistically? Human constantly provides implicit and hidden feedback while interacting with autonomous systems. It is crucial to leverage the multimodal human sensory data to formally define models that are generalizable and personalized.
  • Can we integrate human in the loop? To build customized AI systems as trustworthy teammates to better collaborate with human users in complex decision-making tasks, we aim to integrate human in the framework to achieve transparent and responsive interaction without interrupting or intruding.

Gary Mirka portrait

Gary Mirka

John Ryder Professor in Engineering, University Professor

Dr. Mirka oversees the Physical Ergonomics and Biomechanics Lab, where his group uses motion analysis, electromyography and mathematical modeling to understand muscle and joint loading during occupational tasks.

Research interests:

  • What are the underlying causes of workplace musculoskeletal injuries? Areas of particular interest are spine biomechanics and hand/wrist biomechanics.
  • What are effective strategies to reduce their incidence? In addition to the basic research focus of the laboratory setting, field work involving the development and assessment of effectiveness of ergonomic interventions forms the applied aspects of the research conducted by this research group.

Rick Stone portrait

Rick Stone

Associate Professor

Dr. Stone oversees the Augmented Human Performance Lab and his research group specializes in biomechanical, biomedical, and cognitive engineering to study human work and task performance.

Research interests:

  • Can we help humans be more effective at work? This group seeks to develop new technologies and techniques to enhance human capabilities and improve efficiency.
  • How can we reduce strain for employees? Through biomechanical, biomedical, and cognitive engineering–with a strong focus on the development of technologies, tools, and techniques that augment human capability—we look for ways to help employees be more effective, safer, and in many cases, happier in their work places.