Faculty Research Projects

Human-Computer Interaction (Dr. Greenstein)

Human-computer interaction is about designing computer systems that people can use to carry out their activities productively and straightforwardly. To achieve this, emphasis is placed on understanding the user and his or her tasks and making use of technology to meet the user’s needs. Students in our lab apply user-centered design methodologies to develop and refine human-computer interface designs for a variety of applications. Recently, we have been looking at applications in the areas of cybersecurity (the design of usable, but still secure, passwords) and healthcare (the design of a usable mobile app to support cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Psychophysiology of stress and cardiovascular function (Dr. McCubbin)

Funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 20 years, we have focused on neuroendocrine mechanisms that contribute to exaggerated blood pressure reactions to stress and other circulatory health factors. We have studied stress and blood pressure control in young adults at risk for hypertension, pregnant women, animal models of circulatory function, chronic pain patients, and postmenopausal women on hormone replacement therapy. Over the years, we have examined the role of endorphins and enkephalins in sympathetic nervous system function, pain sensitivity, relaxation therapy and aerobic fitness. We are interested in responses to laboratory stressors as well as reactions to naturally occurring occupational and psychosocial stressors.

Fitness and the workplace (Dr. Merritt)

One of the most important threats to public health in the 21st century concerns the rising rates of obesity, concurrent with a substantial decline in fitness levels across the population.  Dr. Merritt is currently testing the effects of fitness interventions on workplace safety, overall employee health and satisfaction, and employer healthcare costs by conducting an extended workplace physical fitness intervention in which we are investigating if the effects of fitness, acute exercise and reductions in body fat levels differentially affect performance in males and females.  Our overall objective is to determine the relationships between physical fitness and/or acute exercise and specific cognitive processes linked to workplace health and safety, mood and well-being.

Stress, Stomach, and Performance (Dr. Muth)

Bite Counter Project: The Bite Counter is worn on the wrist like a watch and tracks a pattern of wrist roll motion in order to detect that the wearer has taken a bite of food, storing a log of time-stamped bite count data. While the methodology has been validated to accurately counts bites, the utility of counting bites has not been fully explored. This project is examining: the relationship of bite count to caloric intake; comparing bite count estimated calories to person estimated calories; and the utility of the bite counter for weight loss and weight maintenance. Students working in the laboratory for the summer will be paired with a graduate student to work on either ongoing research or a small side project associated with ongoing research. For further general information about the laboratory see:


Methods for science education (Dr. Stephens)

My research investigates student learning and development.  What are the learning goals and outcomes for undergraduates?  How can we facilitate achievement of these objectives?  How do we know if we are effectively guiding students in their educational and career goals?  Our study of these issues draws heavily from cognitive, developmental,  individual difference, and educational psychology.  Students explore empirical methods to address complex real-world issues, such as the value of electronic portfolio and research experiences in undergraduate education.

Social and Organizational Psychology Research Team (Dr. Britt)

Our research team is broadly interested in how aspects of identity interact with the demands and challenges of the environment to influence motivation, health, and performance.  Our research is divided into four major areas:  1). Organizational stress, motivation, and performance and resiliency.  Soldiers deployed on combat operations and foreign language analysts working for the U.S. government to uncover intelligence vital to national security represent two groups of individuals who experience high levels of stress at work.  2) Determinants and consequences of self engagement in life activities.  Our research on self engagement has been applied to military personnel, training settings, and voting in presidential elections. 3). Stigma of seeking help for psychological problems in different environments.  4).  Psychological stamina:  We have recently begun a program of research on psychological stamina, which we define as the ability to perform psychological tasks over an extended period of time without becoming mentally tired and experiencing a drop in performance.

Cyber Bullying (Dr. Kowalski)

Cyber bullying, also known as electronic bullying or online social cruelty, refers to bullying through email, instant messaging, and other methods of electronic communication.  We are continuing research on cyber bullying — who cyber bullies; who is cyber bullied; are there gender differences in cyber bullying; how does cyber bullying compare to traditional bullying in its long-term effects; what role do schools play in stopping cyber bullying; what interventions are available to parents and educators.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology (Dr. Switzer)

We’re currently working on two primary research streams: real-time team performance and organizational simulations. Real-time teams are those such as nuclear plant operator teams, chemical plant operator teams, flight crews, and military teams. Specifically, this research is looking at how to train and measure mission-critical cognitions and behaviors such as team/distributed situation awareness, adaptability, back-up behavior, risk perception and analysis, etc. The second research stream uses computer simulations to look at the short- and long-term effects of business decisions (e.g., hiring, lay-offs, etc. ) and work behaviors. We will also be working on some individual projects in judgment and decision-making in driving, medical decisions, mentoring, and group decision-making.

Human-Centered Computing (Dr. Gilbert)

Human-Centered Computing (HCC) is focused on understanding how to design, build and evaluate computational technologies as they relate to the human condition and how these technologies affect society. Our research can be divided into multiple research groups. Advanced learning technologies is a research group that studies how to create technologies that enhance learning. In our research we use culture and animation to achieve this goal through culturally relevant computing, see http://www.aadmlss.org for examples. Naturally interactive interfaces is another research group. We have projects that focus on texting while driving, see http://www.VoiceTextingResearch.org and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwVN1deb9jM , electronic health records and electronic voting. Our research in electronic voting, see http://www.PrimeVotingSystem.org , is a major project that emphasis secure, yet accessible voting technologies. Lastly, we have a project on conversational agents for web navigation, see http://www.conversationalagents.org/ In our research, we conduct extensive usability studies to evaluate our technologies. Our research lab website is http://www.HumanCenteredComputing.org

Situation Taxonomy (Dr. Pury)

There’s a broad consensus among psychologists that behavior is a function of both the actor’s personality and situation the actor finds him or herself in. While we’ve made great strides in describing and assessing the personality side of the function, little work has been done to describe a comprehensive and useful description of basic situations. We are working to develop and test just such a system, which should have applications in clinical, I-O, personality, social, and positive psychology.