Tag: Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Spring 2023 Recipient – Alexandra Watral

My interests lie at the intersection of accessibility and efficiency. For this reason, I transitioned away from clinical work and started my PhD in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors in January 2019 under the guidance of Dr. Kevin Trewartha. From day one, my research has focused on developing new tools for assessing cognitive decline in older adults through the study of motor skill learning using a specialized robotic device.

My dissertation research focuses on the use of two novel motor skill learning tasks to distinguish between healthy aging, mild cognitive impairment, and the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s is typically measured using neuropsychological tests that lack sensitivity and specificity to subtle changes in cognitive function associated with disease progression. As such, these tests struggle to correctly diagnoses patients with pre-clinical dementia symptoms (such as mild cognitive impairment) or the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research, however, has shown that the ability to adapt our movements to learn a new motor skill may relate to changes in learning and memory that occur early in the development of the disease. My dissertation will explore the relationship between data collected from two motor learning tasks and data collected through a typical battery of neuropsychological tests to diagnose Alzheimer’s-type dementia. We expect that these motor learning tasks can go above and beyond the ability of the neuropsychological battery to detect changes in cognitive functioning. Importantly, these motor learning tasks take about half the time to complete compared to the standard diagnostic procedures. By showing that these tasks are sensitive to subtle changes in cognitive decline, we can increase certainty in the proper diagnosis while minimizing the time and costs associated with the diagnostic procedure. This could lead to earlier and more efficient diagnoses and subsequent earlier treatment to slow the progression of cognitive decline, thereby improving patient and caregiver quality of life.

I would like to thank the Graduate School Awards Advisory Panel for this fellowship, and my advisor, Dr. Kevin Trewartha, for his consistent support and guidance over the last four years.

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award– Spring & Fall 2022 Recipients

Congratulations to the following students on receiving the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award!

Noah Agata- Mechanical Engineering
Arslan Amer- Biochemistry/Molecular Biology
Manuel Anderson- Applied Ecology
Yasasya Uthpalawarna Ariyadasa Batugedara Batugedara Mohottalalage- Mathematical Sciences
Kendall Belopavlovich- Rhetoric, Theory and Culture
Kwadwo Ampadu Boateng- Civil Engineering
Aidan Botkin- Mathematical Sciences
Mohanish Kishor Chandurkar- Biomedical Engineering
Louis Chapin- Environmental Engineering
Tania Demonte Gonzalez- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Alayna Farrell- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Logan Fike- Geology
Samantha Fincannon- Electrical Engineering
Mahalakshmi Madhoolika Jammalamadaka- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Larissa Juip- Indust Heritage & Archaeology
Michelle Kelly- Biological Sciences
Ronald Kyllonen- Mechanical Engineering
Kenneth Larsen- Engineering – Environmental
Hyeseon Lee- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Tyler Lemahieu- Environmental Engineering
Isaac Lennox- Kinesiology
Fredrica Markson Eduaful- Rhetoric, Theory and Culture
Nusrat Irin Chowdhury Mary- Computer Engineering
Venkata Satya Sai Revanth Mattey- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Kathryn Miller- Electrical & Computer Engineer
Oindabi Mukherjee- Physics
Monica Mame Soma Nyansa- Chemistry
Ikechukwu Emmanuel Okoh- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Jonathan Oleson- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Melanie Ottino- For Molec Genetics & Biotec
Shashank Pathrudkar- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Meara Pellar-Kosbar- Data Science
Hailee Petosky- Biological Sciences
Evan Ricchio-Hitchcock- Geological Engineering
Noah Squires- Mechanical Engineering
Caleb Swain- Computer Science
Shruti Rajiv Vaidya- Electrical & Computer Engineer
Elizabeth Wahmhoff- Rhetoric, Theory and Culture
Aaron Wildenborg- Applied Physics
Kieran Young- Computer Science
Zhongtian Zhang- Biomedical Engineering
Noah Zins- Electrical & Computer Engineer

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award– Spring & Fall 2021 Recipients

Congratulations to the following students on receiving the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award!

Shahriar Alam- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Behnam Azmoon- Civil Engineering
Roya Bagheri- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Tanner Barnes- Forest Ecology & Mgmt
Beth Bartel- Geology
Claudia Irmgard Bartlick-Georg- Forest Science
Parth Parimalbhai Bhatt- Forest Science
Shiying Cai- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Marina Choy- Rhetoric, Theory and Culture
Madhureeta Das- Computer Engineering
Akshay Shankarrao Dongre- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Ian Gannon- Geological Engineering
Gaurish Shreedhar Gokhale- Electrical Engineering
David Hallberg- Electrical Engineering
Ian Herzog- Physics
Madhur Arun Jagtap- Electrical Engineering
Joshua Kemppainen- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Seth Kriz- Chemical Engineering
Jessica LaReaux- Civil Engineering
Arianna Laiho- Kinesiology
Nicholas Newberry- Chemistry
Abhishek Patil- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Yugandhara Yuvraj Patil- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Ashwin Karthik Purushothaman- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Ashfiqur Rahman- Electrical Engineering
Gurijala Venkat Prithvi Reddy- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Reihaneh Samsami- Civil Engineering
Mujeeb Olushola Shittu- Biochemistry/Molecular Biology
Kevin Sunderland- Biomedical Engineering
Arman Tatar- Civil Engineering
Shardul Tiwari- Environmental & Energy Policy
Laura Vidal Chiesa- Rhetoric, Theory and Culture
Karlee Westrem- Mathematical Sciences

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award– Spring & Fall 2020 Recipients

Congratulations to the following students on receiving the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award!

Gabriel Edzordzi Agbozo- Rhetoric, Theory and Culture
Emily Anible- Mathematical Sciences
Aynaz Biniyaz- Civil Engineering
James Davis- Electrical Engineering
William Dion- Biological Sciences
Dylan Gaines- Computer Science
Ryan Ghannam- Biochemistry/Molecular Biology
Anindya Ghoshroy- Electrical Engineering
Dongzhao Jin- Civil Engineering
Shreya Joshi- Atmospheric Sciences
Jeffrey Kabel- Applied Physics
Sarah LewAllen- Biological Sciences
Weibing Li- Statistics
Sergio Miguel Lopez Ramirez- Civil Engineering
Evan Lucas- Electrical Engineering
Susan Mathai- Atmospheric Sciences
Ali Moazzam- Electrical Engineering
Kate Nelson- Geophysics
Shane Oberloier- Electrical Engineering
Divya Kamlesh Pandya- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
K M Niaz Reza- Electrical Engineering
Nelmary Rodriguez Sepulveda- Geology
Udit Sharma- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Cameron Shock- Physics
Ariana Smies- Biomedical Engineering
Mehnaz Tabassum- Electrical Engineering
Cora Taylor- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Mikhail Ana Lise Francese Trought- Chemistry
Matthew VanderMolen- Forest Ecology & Mgmt
Isaac Wedig- Integrative Physiology
Menghan Zhao- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics

Dean’s Award for Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award– Spring & Fall 2019 Recipients

Congratulations to the following students on receiving the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award!

Jesse Anderson- Atmospheric Sciences
Swapnil Sambhaji Bamane- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Alexandra Bieri- Mathematical Sciences
Jessica Bruning- Integrative Physiology
Nattaporn Chuenjarern- Mathematical Sciences
Brian Danhoff- Biological Sciences
Ahammad Basha Dudekula- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Lisa Eggart- Physics
Siddharth Bharat Gopujkar- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Cameron Hansel- Mechanical Engineering
Salman Husain- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Katelyn Kring- Geological Engineering
Daniel Kulas- Chemical Engineering
William Lytle- Environmental & Energy Policy
Mehdi Malekrah- Electrical Engineering
Lauren Mancewicz- Engineering – Environmental
Michael Maurer- Electrical Engineering
Niranjan Miganakallu Narasimhamurthy- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Tino Moore- Computer Science
Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao- Biomedical Engineering
Seth Nelson- Applied Physics
William Pisani- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Suraj Prabhu- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Elizabeth Renshaw- Rhetoric, Theory and Culture
Charles Schaerer- Chemistry
Soroush Sepahyar- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Emily Shaw- Engineering – Environmental
Darud E Sheefa- Civil Engineering
Parya Siahcheshm- Chemistry
Samantha Swartzmiller- Mechanical Engineering
Mitchel Timm- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Daniel Trepal- Indust Heritage & Archaeology
Stephania Vaglica- Mechanical Engineering
Sarah Washko- Civil Engineering
Upendra Yadav- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Zhuyong Yang- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics
Jiachen Zhai- Mechanical Eng-Eng Mechanics

KCP Future Faculty Fellow – Tim Raymond

Ever since my early teen years I have been involved in teaching. At 13 years of age I was leading martial arts classes for even younger students. Although the techniques were still quite rudimentary, I found a passion within teaching that has continued to evolve. My teacher as he taught me had enough insight into how much I enjoyed teaching that he began to teach me how to teach. Instead of just throwing concepts or techniques at me, he made sure I understood them all at a deeper level with the intention I continue teaching them. 

I can’t say that academia has always been a major concern for me. Due to unforeseeable reasons, I dropped out of high school when I was 17 years old to help out with the family business. I never thought I would return to a school setting but after many bumps in the road, I eventually found my way back.

The most amazing part about being an educator or at least aspiring to be one is that we are continuously humbled every day through our interactions with colleagues and people above us. These interactions can lead us to new and unique paths that we would have never imagined. My time here at MTU has brought me to psychology and eventually grad school where under my current advisor, Elizabeth Veinott, I have recently been exposed to research regarding the railroad industry. 

While on this new journey through academia I have been able to find ways to combine the knowledge I am receiving from Michigan Tech with my knowledge of the ‘real-world’ and I endeavor daily to become an educator that teaches not just the concepts or ideas but how we can use them within industry and alongside our daily lives.

Portage Health Foundation Graduate Assistantship Summer 2022 – Lamia Alam

I come from Dhaka, the heart of beautiful Bangladesh where I obtained a BS in computer science and engineering from the Military Institute of Science and Technology. I was very keen to understand how to make human-system interaction more efficient, and therefore I started my journey for graduate studies in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences at Michigan Tech in the summer of 2018. I completed my master’s degree in Applied Cognitive Science and Human factors in 2020 and currently, I am pursuing my Ph.D. in the same department under the supervision of Dr. Shane T. Mueller. I recognize myself as a human factors researcher working closely in the interdisciplinary area of public health, artificial intelligence (AI), and cognitive psychology.

I am exploring the human factors issues in patient-AI interactions within the context of diagnostic healthcare. Working on my master’s thesis, I found the empathetic aspects are important in physician-patient communication and it may have some prospects within AI-patient communication as well. While it is very challenging to incorporate cognitive empathy elements within an artificial agent, I started thinking about how this issue can be addressed and chose these research questions to pursue my dissertation, I have extracted cognitive empathic elements of patient-physician communication by interviewing first-time mothers to understand their interactions with their physicians and midwives. Currently, I am examining the effectiveness of these elements within the context of patient-AI communication. My research objective is to bridge the gap between patient and AI using cognitive empathy elements, develop common ground in patient-AI communication, and help people trust the available AI resources.

I am extremely grateful to the Portage Health Foundation (PHF) for acknowledging my work with patient-physician communication by awarding me the graduate assistantship for Summer 2022. I would also like to express my gratitude to my advisor Dr. Shane T. Mueller for guiding me at every step in the last 4 years. I thank the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) for supporting my research, also each and everyone in the department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences for providing me with a wonderful and friendly environment to grow as a person and a researcher. With this assistantship, I believe I will make good contributions to the health research for the community by developing resources for expecting mothers based on my research so that they may build a rapport with their providers. The assistantship will also help me to exclusively focus on my dissertation and work towards achieving my goals.

Michigan Tech gratefully acknowledges support from the Portage Health Fountain for the PHF Graduate Assistantship.

KCP Future Faculty Fellow – Brittany Nelson

It started when I took a critical thinking class where I learned how irrational many of my, and most people’s decisions, are. Many hold a misconception that we are rational creatures that we weigh pros and cons of each choice and choose the option that has the most utility. I was immediately fascinated that this is not the case; decisions are influenced by biases, environment, emotions, fatigue, and more. As an undergraduate, I conducted a blind experiment that measured the impact of reading a free will philosophy pamphlet on behaviors such as stealing candy and donating money. (Those who read the pamphlet that suggests we don’t have free will are more likely to steal candy and not donate money!) After learning how little we make rational decisions —without even being aware— I understood the potential the field of cognitive science has for helping people.

My interest in teaching allowed me to take many powerful lessons from my Masters’ degree in Applied Cognitive Science and share them with students when I was a visiting professor at Finlandia University. This position opened my eyes to how instructors can empower students through teaching. From this experience, I gained a passion for and concrete skills in how to be a professor.

Under the advisement of Dr. Erich Petushek, my current Ph.D. research at MTU involves identifying, measuring, and improving key factors that impact healthy lifestyle decisions. Lifestyle behaviors cause 60% of premature deaths and lead to 10 years longer life expectancy free of major chronic diseases. I hope that the long-term impact of this research is saved lives and a significant improvement in quality of life.

It is my goal to become a professor in psychology. As a professor, I can empower students to reach their potential and lead a lab devoted to helping people make good decisions. I am so grateful and honored to receive the King-Chávez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship. I know it will help pave my way toward my goal.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program Application Support

The Graduate School is offering support services to assist graduate students in applying for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program, including workshops and one-on-one writing support.  Fellowship recipients earn an annual stipend of $34,000.  To be eligible, applicants must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident, have never previously applied to GRFP while enrolled in a graduate degree program, have never earned a master’s or professional degree in any field, or completed more than one academic year in a graduate degree-granting program.  Applications are due October 18th – 22nd.  See https://www.nsfgrfp.org/ for full benefits and eligibility details.

Workshop 1: Overview and tips from a former NSF program manager and reviewer
Date and Time: Friday, September 3rd, from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Presenter: Dr. Pushpalatha Murthy, former NSF program manager
Co-hosts: Dr. Debra Charlesworth, former NSF GRFP reviewer, and Sarah Isaacson, NSF GRFP Support Coordinator
Zoom meeting link: Please make sure to sign in with your MTU account before joining the meeting to be admitted.
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://michigantech.zoom.us/j/83018958000

Workshop 2: Crafting your statements: Content and organization
Date and Time: Friday, September 10th, from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Presenter: Sarah Isaacson, NSF GRFP Support Coordinator
Zoom meeting link: Please make sure to sign in with your MTU account before joining the meeting to be admitted.
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://michigantech.zoom.us/j/82410509516

Personalized writing support:
Applicants will receive support via an NSF GRFP Canvas course as well as individualized writing support on application drafts from qualified staff members.

See https://www.nsfgrfp.org/ for more details. Questions? Contact Sarah Isaacson, NSF GRFP Support Coordinator: sisaacso@mtu.edu

Doctoral Portage Health Foundation Assistantship Summer 2020 Recipient – Lavanya Rajesh Kumar

At Michigan Tech I have had an opportunity to learn about interesting fields like motor learning and human factors, which were quite new to me. I also engaged in various service related, entrepreneurial and leadership activites. In the four years that I have been here, I have had the good fortune to have met some wonderful people and participate in community related events. I had lots of fun volunteering for the regional Copper Dog 150 event,  the annual illuminary ski event at Maasto Hiihto chalet and the Houghton Portage Township school’s FIRST robotic regional competition.

My PhD program in the Aging, Cognition and Action Lab, under the supervison of Dr. Kevin Trewartha (in the department  of Cognitive and Learning Sciences) , is in the area of health, neuroscience, motor learning and aging. The overarching aim of my dissertation is to investigate the role of exercise and social-cognitive-affective processes in improving neurocognitive function and their connection to other related domains like motor learning and emotional intelligence. In the first study we looked at low-impact eccentric exercise as an intervention. In the second study we are applying motivational techniques like enhanced expectancies, external focus of attention, and autonomy support as short-term interventions to improve motor learning and performance in a novel sensorimotor task in both, younger and older adults. The rationale behind these studies is to provide evidence of novel intervention methods that are both effective and simple and that can be employed to enhance motor learning and performance in older and younger adults. We expect that the findings will pave way for future work on the application of these techniques across various fields including rehabilitation, therapy, training, education and sports across different age groups, populations and conditions.

I am extremely grateful to the Portage Health Foundation for awarding me this graduate assistantship, which provided me with the opportunity to exclusively focus on my dissertation and work towards publishing papers on our novel interventions to improve health, motor learning and cognitive abilities. I would also like to express my gratitude to my advisor and department for their support and encouragement.