Research Laboratories: Applied Experimental/Human Factors Ph.D. Program

Adult Development and Decision Lab (ADD Lab) is dedicated to understanding the neural mechanisms of decision processing across adulthood. Broadly, our research examines how momentary and long-term changes to brain function affect decision making. Current projects in the lab are focused on how cognitive and affective components of decision making contribute to decision processing and quality. These studies aim to address important problems such as age-related decline in decision making and negative effects of stress on risk taking behavior. In conducting this research, lab members utilize an array of methodological approaches including behavioral manipulations, biomarker measurement, and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Applied Cognition and Aging Lab (ACAL) focuses on understanding the perceptual and cognitive processes that guide human behavior throughout the lifespan.  Using that knowledge, we then devise strategies to augment human performance in a variety of “every day” (and not so “every day”) tasks and situations, generally through training interventions and technological supplementation.   The lab utilizes a number of experimental techniques including traditional behavioral paradigms, eye tracking, virtual reality, driving simulation, and neuroimaging.   Director: Dr. Mark Neider Lab website: http://www.markneider.com/.

Applied Cognition and Technology Laboratory (ACAT) is a collaboration between a cognitive psychologist and a social psychologist. Research examines human interactions with intelligent non-humans, including robots, computers, and animals. Anthropomorphism and its implications for design are a key part of this research. Director: Dr. Valerie Sims. Laboratory Website: http://acat.cos.ucf.edu/

Attention and Memory Lab is focused on the interaction of visual working memory, long term memory, attention and oculomotor control. To guide attention throughout the world in a goal directed way, to pick up your coffee mug for example, we must maintain some mental representation of the object to match to the visual information in peripheral vision. We investigate this interactive process from a multitude of theoretical and methodological directions by integrating eye tracking with event-related potentials, allowing us to investigate the behavioral, oculomotor, and neural instantiations of memory and attentional processes. By better understanding how memory representations interact with attentional processes, we hope to gain insights into how these processes are integrated into our broader cognitive function. Director: Dr. Joseph Schmidt. Lab website: http://sciences.ucf.edu/psychology/awmlab/

Categorization & Decision Lab  The Categorization & Decision Lab at UCF focuses on basic and applied research into how people learn to classify elements of their environment (e.g., diagnostic judgments) and how they make decisions.  A long-term goal is to understand these cognitive behaviors well enough to apply our understanding to improve performance in operational environments.  This research has implications for designing better training methods and for influencing design of interactive technologies.  The lab emphasizes the use of computational cognitive modeling and methods from cognitive neuroscience (e.g., functional neuroimaging of cortical activity). Please visit our website: https://sites.google.com/site/categorizationdecisionlab Director: Dr. Corey Bohil.

Center for Applied Human Factors in Aviation (CAHFA) focuses its research on making aeronautical systems safer and easier to use by achieving sophistication without complication. Director: Dr. Mustapha Mouloua.

FAA/UCF Partnership for Aviation Team Training Research specializes in research in aviation training issues and conducts research for both military and commercial aviation. Director: Dr. Florian Jentsch.

Minds in Technology, Machines in Thought (MIT2) Laboratory focuses on issues of stress, workload and fatigue in dynamic, hazardous environments with particular attention to military applications. We are a virtual research lab, including the Minds in Technology, Machines in Thought (MIT2) Labs at the University of Central Florida, the Cognitive Sciences Lab at George Mason University, Linkoping University, Team Performance Laboratory (UCF) and the Florida Institute of Technology. The MIT2 affiliate labs at UCF include the MURI Lab, the Transportation Research Group (TRG), and the Center for Applied Human Factors in Aviation (CAHFA). The Laboratory works under a DOD research grant titled “Mitigating Stress, Workload, and Fatigue in the Electronic Battlefield.” Along with assistance from the Army Research Lab, the Army Research Institute, the Army Research Office, and the other affiliated research labs maintained by the U.S. Department of Defense, we hope to make great strides towards understanding and alleviating some of the stressors that are encountered by today’s infantry forces. Please view our website at www.mit.ucf.edu. Director: Dr. Peter A Hancock.

Performance Research Laboratory (PeRL) is involved in research on the performance, workload, and stress associated with performance of cognitive tasks. Both group and individual differences are investigated in research on human performance. Of particular interest is the interaction between the characteristics (trait and state) of individuals and the characteristics of the tasks they perform. Director: Dr. James Szalma. Laboratory Website: http://perl.cos.ucf.edu

Team Performance Laboratory (TPL) specializes in basic and applied principles of both individual and team performance, processes, and training in a number of military and civilian domains including aviation and human robot interaction. Current projects include, (a) in aviation, we are currently investigating Crew Resource Management (CRM) training and examining how it has been applied in different domains over the years with the overall goal of providing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with valuable information for augmenting CRM guidelines, principles, procedures and tools, (b), in human-robot interaction, we are currently conducting research relevant to autonomy, shared mental models, situation awareness, and guided discovery learning in mixed human-robot teams for the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (RCTA). Please view our website at www.tpl.ucf.edu Director: Dr. Florian Jentsch.

Technology and Aging Lab (TAL) was founded in 1994 and is led under the direction of Janan A. Smither Ph.D., Ed Rinalducci, Ph.D., and Daniel S. McConnell, Ph.D.  TAL primarily explores the motor, perceptual, and cognitive effects of aging on modern technology, focusing across the lifespan. www.sciences.ucf.edu/psychology/tal

Transportation Research Group is dedicated to enhancing surface transportation safety and efficiency through applied research, design validation and training systems support. UCF provides TRG with the multidisciplinary capabilities of a major university, including academic strengths in applied psychology and engineering. TRG research is concerned with the behavioral, environmental and engineering factors in traffic safety. Specific areas of research include driving simulation, training, high-risk drivers, in-vehicle navigational systems, increased congestion, driver workload, driver fatigue, high speed pursuit, and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The TRG research facilities consist of a wide variety of laboratories and centers throughout the university. These include the Visual Performance Laboratory, Human Factors Research Laboratory, The Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology Laboratory, The Team Performance Laboratory, The Center for Applied Human Factors in Aviation, The Center for Advanced Transportation Simulation Systems, and the Institute for Simulation and Training. Director: Dr. Mustapha Mouloua.

The UCF Recent and Emerging Technology Research Organization (RETRO) Lab is dedicated to the academic study of virtual words and interactive media, including their use for educational and training purposes. We are interested in blending best practices and innovations in interactive media product development with human-computer interaction and the science of learning and training. RETRO is a part of both the UCF Psychology Department and the Institute for Simulation and Training. Students and professionals across many disciplines compose our two teams – the researchers and the developers, Under the guidance of Drs. Jan Cannon-Bowers and Clint Bowers. Laboratory Website:  http://ucfretrolab.org/

Other Research Opportunities available:

Institute for Simulation and Training (IST) is an internationally recognized research institute that focuses on advancing modeling and simulation technology and increasing our understanding of simulation’s role in training and education. Founded in 1982, IST is one of the nations leading research centers for simulation, training, modeling and virtual reality research for both defense and commercial applications. IST employs full-time researchers and support personnel, part-time faculty researchers (many of whom have joint appointments in other departments), and numerous graduate and undergraduate students. Located in a dynamic, growing field, supported by government and industry sponsors, and charged with identifying new directions for this technology IST is helping to define the future of simulation and training.

 

The Institute for Simulation and Training is located in the Central Florida Research Park, adjacent to the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Central Florida is noted for its dense population of high-tech companies engaged in many different aspects of simulation and training. More than 140 simulation and training companies have facilities in the Central Florida area. This base gives IST a broad range of resources and experiences from which to draw. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training System Division (NAVAIR Orlando), U.S. Army Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation Command (STRICOM), Air Force Agency for Modeling and Simulation and Marine Liaison Office (Trainers and Simulators) are also located in the Research Park within walking distance of IST.

 

The Research Park at UCF houses numerous other sites for gaining practical experience in the field of human factors, including both military and industry organizations.