Human-centered Systems Design to Support Performance in Cognitively-Challenging Contexts

Dr. Thomas K. Ferris
D3 W122

The Human Factors & Cognitive Systems (HF&CS) Lab researches human information processing and multitasking performance, and designs technologies to support human cognition in complex work systems. This seminar will introduce how HF&CS researchers apply information processing theory and analysis methods to human system contexts that are cognitively-problematic, such as multitasking while driving and communicating with a person who is under extreme stress or emotional loading. The presentation will highlight some HF&CS research efforts to study information processing phenomena and will detail work defining a measure of “cognitive efficiency” which can be used to describe communication effectiveness for systems involving human and technological components. Additional discussion will focus on the design of novel displays to support humans in these contexts.


Dr. Thomas K. Ferris is an Associate Professor in Industrial and Systems Engineering and the director of the Human Factors & Cognitive Systems Lab at TAMU. He is also jointly-appointed to the department of Environmental and Occupational Health at TAMU, and is the Director of the NSF Center for Health Organization Transformation ( Dr. Ferris’ research interests are in the system design to support human cognition in sociotechnical engineered systems, with a primary focus on human information processing and ways to support attention and task management to maximize multitasking performance in cognitively-challenging contexts such as when operators are under heavy cognitive workload, stress, and/or time pressure. Recent work includes investigating novel interface/design design techniques such as ambient displays and employing alternative display modalities such as the sense of touch. He is also interested in applying his research to the domains of medicine (anesthesiology, patient monitoring), military operations (command and control, UV control and operations), aviation (cockpit automation, air traffic control), and ground transportation (driver distraction and in-vehicle technology design).