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Qualifying Human Systems Interactions: Shedding light on the brain….literally!

September 9 @ 12:00 PM 1:00 PM

Dr. Ranjana Mehta

1163 Mechanical Engineering

Free and open to the public

Every human (re)action with work systems is orchestrated by an integrated effort between the human’s mind (and brain) and motor interactions. By shedding light on the brain, using optical brain imaging techniques, research in our lab examines the mind-motor-machine nexus to understand, quantify, and predict human states like stress and fatigue across diverse demographics. These efforts provide the foundation for our use-inspired and applied research efforts that focus on 1) feasible, and useful, fatigue assessments in hazardous and inaccessible work domains; 2) supporting and augmenting human performance through equitable interface designs, wearable technologies such as exoskeletons, trustworthy human-robotic interactions, and closed-loop neuroenhancement solutions to mitigate fatigue effects. Fatigue and stress can impair human performance, their judgment, and their decision-making capabilities via various neurocognitive, psychological, and physiological mechanisms and has been associated with a two-fold increase in risk of injuries and errors, and four-fold increase in safety-compromising behaviors during safety-critical events. This is especially concerning in hazardous and inaccessible work domains, such as disaster sites and offshore rigs. This talk will provide an overview of the utility of neuroergonomics to understand operator fatigue mechanisms owing to different stressors and their impacts on indicators of operational task performance, lessons learned and our recommendations for “in the wild” fatigue assessments to evaluate operator readiness for safety-critical tasks, and human-centric development and evaluation of potential countermeasures to augment and support human performance with autonomy.

BIO: Ranjana Mehta is an associate professor and Mike and Sugar Barnes Career Development Faculty Fellow II in the Wm Michael Barnes ’64 Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Presidential Impact Fellow at Texas A&M University. She received her PhD from Virginia Tech in 2011. She is a leading expert in neuroergonomics, the study of brain and behavior at work, and her current human factors research program focuses on human health and performance augmentations in high-risk environments. Her research has attracted more than $18.5 M in extramural funding from NIH, NSF, NASEM, and DARPA, resulted in over 82 journal publications, 61 conference proceedings, and several plenaries and keynotes across academic and industry venues, and recognized through numerous honors, notably the Ideas* Faculty Fellow by NASA, the Early Career Research Fellow by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Gulf Research Program, IISE Award for Technical Innovation in Industrial Engineering, and several awards from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. As a citizen of the Industrial & Systems Engineering community, she has maintained a high level of external service at the national and international levels via numerous elected and appointed positions within professional societies, conferences, and standards development committees and as an associate editor of several human factors/ergonomics journals

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