Human Factors Research

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Aging and Human Factors

Older participant in a computer study

Age-related changes in Cognitive Abilities & Everyday Technology Performance?Cognitive abilities underlie performance in everyday tasks. How do age-related changes in abilities (e.g., memory, spatial abilities, verbal abilities) affect older adults’ ability to use everyday technologies? In addition, how do other age-related differences cause differences in how we use highly automated technologies such as smartphones? Richard Pak

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Driving Research

Driving Distraction. Does talking on a cell phone, talking with a passenger, or using an in-vehicle navigation system really distract drivers’ attention from the road? We use both low and high-fidelity driving simulators to understand how drivers maintain attention and situation awareness in the face of distraction. Lee Gugerty

Fatigue and Driving. One part of my stress and fatigue research program includes investigating the effects of sleep deprivation and daytime sleepiness on driving skills under a variety of driving conditions (e.g., different types of roads, traffic conditions, and weather conditions). The goal of this research is to document the effects of fatigue on driving and to develop potential methods of monitoring and preventing sleepiness while driving. June J. Pilcher

Pedestrian visibility conditions


Graduate researcher measuring headlight glare

Night Vision and Driving. Driving at night is substantially more dangerous than driving in daylight. We research how well drivers see at night and how our night vision affects our ability to drive safely. For example, we are studying how visible and conspicuous pedestrians are to drivers at night, and we are exploring new ways to make pedestrians safer at night. We do experiments outdoors at night and indoors using a driving simulator. Rick Tyrrell

Vision in Challenging Conditions. How well do we see in fog? Is the glare from the headlights of oncoming vehicles debilitating or just annoying? And when should we use our high beams? How does our ability to see change as we grow older? We study the limitations of human vision, ways to compensate for our visual limitations, and the extent to which we are aware of our own visual limitations. Rick Tyrrell

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Health/Medical Human Factors

AED use by novices. Automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) are now available in many public building (e.g., airports) and for home use. But could you use one to save someone’s life in an emergency? These devices are supposed to be easy enough to use that someone with little or no training could use them. We have studied how different kinds of brief training affect the ability of novices to effectively use an AED. Lee Gugerty

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Information Search

Internet Search. Frequently, people use the internet to find simple but important facts, like the side effects of a medication they are taking. At other time, people use the internet to understand more complex issues, like the causes of the stock market crash in 2008. We have been using observational and verbal protocol studies to investigate these two important kinds of information finding. Lee Gugerty

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Robotics and Teleoperation

The OctArm robot grips a ball for an agility test

Human Factors of Teleoperation. How much information is lost when viewing the world through the ‘eyes’ of a robot? Our research focuses on answering this question and discovering ways to improve the performance of operators while teleoperating remote robots. Our group is currently performing both basic and applied research studies focused on this issue. Christopher Pagano

Interface design for Novel Robotic Limbs. In collaboration with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Clemson we are helping to design the operator interface for novel robotic limbs. Our laboratory performs usability tests on the controls and interface and provides recommendations for future iterations of the robotic arms. Christopher Pagano


Virtual Environments

Depth perception in virtual environments. Our research focuses on human depth perception in virtual environments, particularly in near-field (within arm’s reach). Our group is also researching ways to remedy observed discrepancies between distance estimates in a virtual environment compared to a real world viewing environment. Various applications include laparoscopic surgery simulators, teleoperation, physical rehab in a virtual environment, etc. Christopher Pagano

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UAV Simulator

Spatial Cognition

Spatial cognition & Navigation. I’m supposed to meet someone at the east entrance of city hall, but which entrance is that? I’m lost but I can see where those 2 landmarks ahead of me are located on this map; so where am I on the map? We have studied how jet pilots, operators of remotely piloted vehicles (UAVs), and students perform tasks like these. Lee Gugerty

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Vision Research

Visual Development. How does form vision change over the first few months of life? Ben Stephens

Spatial Vision. How does the visual system represent form and pattern information? Ben Stephens

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Work-Related Stress

Organizational Stress and Resiliency. Employees and organizations face numerous demands as they attempt to excel. Our research program examines demands associated with high stress jobs (e.g. foreign language analysts, military personnel), as well as factors that sustain health and performance under difficult operational conditions. We are also involved in projects investigating how positive psychological states and stressors combine to predict health and performance among employees. Thomas W. Britt

Psychophysiology, Occupational Health Psychology. My research program is designed to examine the effects of stress and fatigue on normal human functioning at the physiological, behavioral and cognitive levels. Basic laboratory studies assess autonomic and neuroendocrine control of blood pressure, affect regulation and pain sensitivity in persons at enhanced risk for hypertension, coronary heart disease, and pain disorders. Applied studies assess the effects of occupational stress and fatigue on professional and executive performance. The overarching goal of applied studies is to design stress prevention and mitigation strategies to optimize human health and performance in difficult work environments. James McCubbin

Human Stress and Motion Science. Broadly defined, my research interests cover the mind-body interaction during stress. Specifically I am interested in the effects of stress in high workload environments (e.g. combat) and the role of stress in gastrointestinal (GI) disease. I use non-invasive psychophysiological techniques to study the responses of the GI and autonomic nervous systems to stress. I use a paradigm of physiological and psychological stress tasks, e.g., motion sickness; building clearing during military operations in urban terrain; to study physiological reactivity in healthy individuals in the laboratory and real-world. The goal of using this paradigm is to reveal the role that stress has on physiological reactivity. Eric Muth

Stress and Fatigue. Stress and Fatigue. Stress and Fatigue. Almost any topic related to stress and fatigue in humans can capture my interest. My students and I are currently investigating a wide range of topics in relation to stress and fatigue including sleep habits, sleep deprivation, thermal stress, attentional processes, motivation, engagement, cognitive & emotional functioning, decision making, logical & moral reasoning, social functioning, social support, health and well-being. These topics are applicable in educational settings, work settings, shift work, and daily life. As applied-oriented researchers, our over-all purpose is to provide preventative measures that can be used in many work, education, and social settings to improve performance, health, and well-being.
June J. Pilcher

The Positive Psychology of Courage. Courage is needed in many difficult situations, including saving others in physical peril, standing up for what is right, and stepping outside one’s comfort zone to try something new. Although courage has been praised throughout history, it turns out we know remarkably little about the psychology of this important virtue. My research examines courage as a multi-faceted construct, and I am currently working on developing and testing a model of courageous action. In other words, in a given situation, what will help someone behave more courageously? What factors determine (after the fact) if we label an action as courageous? These questions have application in a variety of applied settings, including schools, the work place, therapy and coaching settings, and society at large. Cindy Pury

Employee health and retention. My research addresses occupational health concerns faced by workers in three occupational contexts: military personnel, retail workers, and health care professionals (e.g., nurses). In the military context, I study personal (e.g., personality) and organizational (e.g., leadership) factors that contribute to Soldiers’ stress resilience, mental health, and job attitudes. My research on retail workers focuses on common threats to their occupational well-being, including low wages, shift work (e.g., night and weekend work), and balancing multiple roles (e.g., work and family demands). Finally, with regard to nurses, I am interested how both positive work experiences, such as saving lives or being thanked by a family member, as well as negative work experiences, such as interpersonal conflict, staffing shortages, and resource constraints, affect nurses’ burnout, engagement, and desires to leave the nursing profession. Robert Sinclair

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Exercise in the Workplace

Movement while Working. Modern society often creates a dichotomy for exercise and working. With the exception of professional athletes, usually one does not think of movement or exercise while working. My research project is trying to change that. We are using FitDesks (stationary desks with a desk top) on campus and in K-12 schools to encourage students to be active but at a low level (i.e., no sweating allowed) while studying. We are also placing the FitDesks in work settings to encourage employees to be active while working. We use a wide range of measures to investigate how movement while working affects cognitive performance, attention, motivation, engagement, stress levels, emotional stability, health, and well-being. As applied-oriented researchers, our over-all purpose is to change educational and work settings to improve performance, health and well-being in students and workers. June J. Pilcher

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