Category Archives: Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors

CLS Congratulates Thomas Offer Westort

We are happy to announce that Tom successfully defended his Master’s Thesis titled “Attitudes About Acceptable Risk in the Context of the Biodiversity Crisis” on April 12th. Crafting and enforcing conservation policy requires making normative judgements about what levels of risk are acceptable. These judgements include crucial decisions that impact which species qualify as “endangered.” If a government’s policies are going to represent the values of the public they govern, then public attitudes should be understood. Unfortunately, essentially nothing is known about public attitudes as they pertain to acceptable risk and the biodiversity crisis.

Read more about Tom’s research below.

My research aims to address this gap using data from an internet-based survey (n=1050). I focused on the Endangered Species Act of 1973 which defines an endangered species as “any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” Because a species’ risk of extinction increases with decreasing geographic range, the phrase “significant portion of its range” requires a judgement about what level of risk is acceptable. I then examined how the public’s attitudes regarding risk differs both from the guidance provided by conservationists and the practices of government agencies. I also explored the extent to which variation in attitudes could be explained by relevant knowledge, social identity, level of education, personality, moral foundations, and numeracy. I then used structural equation modeling to model the relationships between predictors.


Honoring Darnishia Slade as this Week’s Teaching Showcase Member

Darnishia Slade, manager of Global Engagement Programs and ACSHF graduate student, has been selected by Lorelle Meadows, the Dean of Pavlis Honors college (PHC), to be this week’s showcase member!

Slade is a great role model for students. She brings encouragement and an engaging learning experiences to students in the classroom. Slade has been a part of the Honors college for sometime. she teaches the first Honors Seminar and the Capstone courses for students in the Global Leadership Pathway for students pursuing their Leadership minor. She continuously explores ways to improve the classroom experience and her excellence sense of student experience likely comes from her previous work in the academic and student affairs departments of the University. Meadows states “Darnishia Slade brings creativity and compassion into her teaching. She has influenced students both inside and outside the classroom, and uses these experiences and insights to affect change in our programs.”

Slade will be recognized at the end-of-term luncheon and is eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer.


CLS Congratulates PhD Candidate Lavanya Rajesh Kumar

The Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences would like to congratulate PhD student Lavanya Rajesh Kumar for her acceptance into Yale University’s Innovation to Impact Program!
Lavanya was selected for the prestigious program that is focused on entrepreneurship training in substance abuse research. Innovation to Impact at Yale was developed as a national program to provide education, mentorship, and seed funding to innovators. The program is open to scholars interested in both exploring what it takes to bring a product to market and applying creative solutions to combat substance abuse through the use of pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, biomedical devices, app development, behavioral interventions, and public policy. The goal of the program is to help participants translate innovations from the lab to the real world.
Lavanya is currently attending the week long training program to work on her idea to develop an addiction prevention based product.
Click here to learn more about the Innovation to Impact program.

In the News

Darnishia Slade (Pavlis Honors College) was awarded the inaugural Bayard Rustin Award by the Michigan Tech chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). The award was presented at the University’s 30th annual MLK Banquet on Jan. 21. The story was featured in the Lode student newspaper.  Darnishia is also a PhD candidate in the Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors program. Congratulations Dar!


Healthy Minds Survey

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The Healthy Minds Survey (HMS) is a campus-wide, nationally recognized, online survey about student mental health and well being. Since its national launch in 2007, HMS has been fielded at over 180 colleges and universities, with over 200,000 survey respondents.  Getting this information from students across the country will help the Healthy Minds Network get a clearer picture of how students handle the stresses of college life and how well their mental and emotional health needs are being met. More importantly, Michigan Tech will gain valuable information that will help the university make informed decisions about the mental health services and outreach programs available to students.

Take approximately 25 minutes out of your day to give the university your feedback on mental health and wellness on campus.

Take the survey here.

The survey remains open from September 24th – October 22nd.

Healthy Minds Heads Sticker with tagline



ACSHF Student Receives Local Hero Award

boroski-personnelWhitney Boroski, MS student in the ACSHF program and Manager of Student Health and Wellness, was recently awarded the 2018 Michigan Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking (MCRUD) Local Hero Award. MCRUD provides leadership on state and national issues, and assists individuals, grassroots groups, and organizations to reduce underage drinking locally.

Boroski has been resourceful in creating programs and utilizing campus and community resources to assist in reducing underage drinking at the university.


Psychology Student Presents at APS Conference

APS is the leading international organization dedicated to advancing scientific psychology across disciplinary and geographic borders. The 30th Association for Psychological Science (APS) Conference brought together more than 4,000 scientists from disciplines spanning the full spectrum of psychological science, some of whom hailed from our own Michigan Technological University. Attendees gained insights into research and trends from world-renowned psychological scientists, improved their skills, deepened their knowledge, and forged life-long collaborations with colleagues. 
UnderAPS Photo 1graduate psychology major Elizabeth Kelliher (pictured), Madeline Peabody (ACSHF Alumna), and Professor Veinott presented an analysis of group brainstorming idea generation at the 2018 APS Conference in San Francisco, California.
For the poster, Premortem: Evaluating two structured analytic techniques for group brainstorming, Elizabeth analyzed the number of reasons and solutions generated based on traditional brainstorming research measures. Groups using the Premortem generated 58% more unique reasons for plan failure than groups using the Worst-case scenario technique.  This research, which is part of a larger series of experiments, provides quantitative evidence for improving plan evaluation techniques and brainstorming. Great job, Elizabeth!

ICAD 2018

International Conference on Auditory Display, ICAD 2018 Michigan Technological University graphic logo.Michigan Technological University has the honor of hosting the 24th annual International Conference on Auditory Display.

ICAD is a highly interdisciplinary academic conference with relevance to researchers, practitioners, musicians, and students interested in the design of sounds to support tasks, improve performance, guide decisions, augment awareness, and enhance experiences. It is unique in its singular focus on auditory displays and the array of perception, technology, and application areas that this encompasses. The overarching theme of this year’s conference is sonification as ADSR (art – design – science – research).

Portions of this conference have been made available for free to the general public:

Presentation from Dr. Stefania Serifin

June 11th, 11 a.m. – 12 p. m. 
Forestry Building Room G02

20 Years of Sonic Interactionsstefania_Lg-300x300

Sonic interaction design is a fertile field of investigation at the intersection of sound and music computing and interaction design. For the past twenty years together with several collaborators we have been designing sonic interactions for different applications, ranging from physics based simulations of musical instruments and everyday objects, new interfaces for musical expression, cultural heritage, walking and rehabilitation, learning and training, as well as virtual and augmented reality. In this talk, she will present an overview of these activities reflecting on their impact and perspectives for the future.

Presentation from Dr. Carryl BaldwinCarryl

June 12th, 11 a.m. – 12 p. m.  
Forestry Building Room G02

Auditory Displays to Facilitate Attention Management in Highly Autonomous Systems

Two recent crashes in January 2018 involving Tesla’s Model S, underscore the importance of the need for driver’s to maintain awareness in semi-automated vehicles, even when the autopilot is engaged.  Despite manufacturer’s warnings and cautionary statements in owner’s manuals, decades of research in vigilance indicates that this will be a challenge, if not impossible for most drivers. This talk will focus on our recent and on-going research developing novel methods of assisting the driver with attention management in highly autonomous systems.  Included in this discussion will be a discussion of the methods to develop and validate effective auditory collision avoidance alerts, driver state monitoring with low-cost physiological sensors, and using specific types of music as a means assisting operators with maintaining sustained attention.

Diversity Workshop

June 12th, 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Forestry Building Room 144

A hands-on workshop on the development of audio-based educational tools and teaching scenarios of activities pertinent to the ICAD domain.

Sonification Concert

June 13th, 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts

Experience experts’ takes on sonification in concert setting.

You may also register for the full conference here. For more details, visit http://icad2018.icad.org/

Partial funding is provided by the Visiting Women & Minority Lecture/Scholar Series (VWMLSS) which is funded by a grant to the Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion from the State of Michigan’s King-Chavez-Parks Initiative.


World Class Expert on Cognitive Systems Engineering Visits CLS

Dr. Robert HoffmaIMG_2692n, world renowned expert on cognitive systems engineering and Senior Scientist at the Institute for Human Machine Cognition (IHMC), gave a talk on April 9, entitled, “Integrated Model of Macrocognition” for students and faculty in Cognitive and Learning Sciences and Human Computing Center at MTU. IHMC, based in Pensacola, Florida, is a leading organization in research to understand and extend human capabilities and technologies.

Dr. Hoffman is working with MTU Faculty, Dr. Shane Mueller on a DARPA project to develop explainable AI.

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