18 December 2012

The University of Queensland's (UQ) Professor Penelope Sanderson has received the highest possible honour in the field of human factors and ergonomics education.

Professor Sanderson was awarded the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) Paul M. Fitts Education Award for 2012.

There is no higher award for educational achievement in human factors, with nominations submitted by past and present students on the basis of student influence.

The field of human factors is concerned with improving the fit between humans and technology.

Human factors professionals advocate the design of technology that is centred around human needs.

Professor Sanderson has been a world leading expert in this area, as a researcher and an educator, for nearly three decades.

The goal of Professor Sanderson’s work is to develop new interactive technologies that help people monitor and control safety-critical systems.

She focuses on hospital critical care settings, power system control rooms and aviation environments.

“At UQ we’re lucky to work in some exciting fields,” Professor Sanderson said.

“We keep good contact with the field so we know when our theories lead to useful outcomes, but also when we need new approaches.”

Professor Sanderson applies these lessons in her teaching.

“This year I took my undergraduate students on three field trips to some key hospitals and control room settings in Brisbane, as part of their course," she said.

“The students saw how different kinds of safety-critical work is done, and they got to talk with the people involved.”

Professor Sanderson, who has a joint appointment with UQ’s Schools of Psychology, Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, and Medicine, leads a collaborative research team within the fields of Cognitive Engineering and Human Factors.

Head of the School of Psychology Professor Bill von Hippel congratulated Professor Sanderson on her recent award.

“This recognition caps a long history of excellent human factors work at UQ by many people. Professor Sanderson and her team of world-class researchers continue to break new ground with their work and we look forward to continued success in this discipline,” he said.

Professor Sanderson has also been granted a Fellowship status within the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society in recognition of her outstanding achievements and sustained contributions to the field.

This is not the first recognition Professor Sanderson has received for 2012, having already been awarded the 2012 American Psychological Association (APA) Division 21 Franklin V. Taylor Award for Distinguished Contributions to Applied Experimental and Engineering Psychology.

In recognition of her achievements, Professor Sanderson has been invited to present at the next APA meeting, which takes place in 2013 in Hawaii.

For further information contact: Professor Penny Sanderson on psanderson@itee.uq.edu.au or 3346 9529