Div. 21 President
Current President: Beth Blickensderfer, PhD
Beth Blickensderfer, PhD
HF Graduate Programs Coordinator
Director of Applied Cognition and Training Science Laboratory
Human Factors and Behavioral Neurobiology Department
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Daytona Beach, FL
When one of the early Apple computers came out, my mom had trouble finding the on/off button. I soon realized that it wasn’t just my mom having trouble using the new technology. The same type of problem occurred with my classmates in the new computer lab at my college. Although I was fascinated with these sparkling new pieces of technology, I saw that some users had difficulty interacting with the machines. I found myself naturally drawn to helping my peers with this experience. Why can’t it be easy for everyone? I also enjoyed my psychology classes. These interests led me to the field of applied experimental and engineering psychology, and I never looked back.
The field of applied experimental and engineering psychology is rich in stimulating work revolving around how humans interact with technology. We work in domains as diverse as consumer products, healthcare systems and technology, aviation, nuclear power, surface transportation, video game design and many, many others. Our goal is to understand human performance and apply this knowledge to improve human-machine interactions.
From the research perspective, we combine our knowledge of humans (cognition, perception, affect, behavior), team performance and more with our research design and data analysis expertise to construct and carry out research. For some of us, this means controlled laboratory studies. For others, it means large-scale research and development programs. We enjoy sharing our findings with the world through our journal articles, presentations, books, technical reports and about any other way we can find.
In applied settings, we follow principles of user-centered design and carefully constructed protocols to understand the users, identify user needs and analyze tasks. We employ these and other techniques to make systems efficient, safe and enjoyable.
Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to meet a continual stream of amazing and wonderful people. I’ve worked with other applied experimental psychologists, human factors and ergonomics (HF/E) researchers, engineers, domain experts, researchers from other disciplines and program managers. People at all levels have touched my career, and I am grateful for having had these experiences. It is always a joy to collaborate with new people as well as reunite with my old friends. For those of you that I already know, thank you for your membership in Div. 21, and I look forward to interacting with you this year and in the future. For those of you that I have not met, please do not hesitate to reach out. I look forward to knowing everyone in our Div. 21 family.
Welcome to Div. 21 (Applied Experimental and Engineering Psychology)!
About the Div. 21 President
Beth Blickensderfer, PhD, is a professor of human factors and the human factors graduate program coordinator at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), Daytona Beach, Fla. Blickensderfer has over 15 years of experience in human-machine systems related research and development including experimental design, qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, cognitive task analysis, training effectiveness, human performance metrics, simulation-based training and team performance. Her experience with complex socio-technical systems encompasses a variety of aviation systems, simulation-based instructional systems and health care systems.
Her work frequently includes entering a domain or sub-domain as an objective human factors psychologist and collaborating with domain experts to analyze systems, identify limitations and develop solutions. This includes developing an understanding of the surrounding culture, unique challenges and the vernacular/terminology fundamental to the respective environment and associated systems. Her wealth of experiences working on interdisciplinary teams indicates her capability to collaborate and achieve results.
Blickensderfer has worked with numerous domains and organizations, including the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare and Naval Aviation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and private organizations. Prior to joining the faculty at ERAU, she worked as a research psychologist in the Human Systems Integration Branch at the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, Fla., where she managed 6.2 and 6.3 research and development programs. She is the author of twelve journal articles, more than 60 conference proceedings, book chapters and other publications and over 60 regional, national and international conference presentations. Since being at ERAU, she has been PI or Co-PI on over $1.2M of research funding. Blickensderfer earned a MS in industrial/organizational psychology and a PhD in human factors psychology from the University of Central Florida. She is currently president of APA’s Div. 21 and the Education Division leader in the Human Factors and Ergonomic Society.
About her career, Blickensderfer states, “My greatest contributions revolve around the translation of science to implementation in human-machine systems. I’ve been intrigued by the gap between research and practice for many years, and a portion of my research has been devoted to better understanding this gap as well as implementing laboratory concepts in the field. While many researchers stay in the lab and practitioners stay out of the library, my work offers examples of integrating research and practice. Most recently, this has been in the area of aviation weather for general aviation. General aviation pilots are faced with interpreting complex weather displays and using this information to make decisions under uncertainty. Our research has begun to identify weather display design and weather training deficiencies existing in general aviation as well as solutions to remedy these problems. I have been the principle investigator and lead human factors psychologist on an interdisciplinary aviation weather team for over 5 years.”