Name: Daniel Leibman
Hometown: Sante Fe, NM
Year in the program: 2nd year
Research Interests: Exoskeletons, Human-Robot Interaction
Career Aspirations: Industrial or Regulatory research involving Human-Robot Interaction, Automation, or Artificial Intelligence.
Fun Fact: Has a twin brother.
Advice to younger students: Grad school is for more than just work. Get out and meet people in the program, hang out, make friends, collaborate. Networking well will take you far.
Name: Dana Wilder
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Year in the program: 1st year
Research Interest: My research is related to affordance-perception. Currently, I am wrapping up a study about to what exactly do people attend when perceiving another person’s action capabilities (e.g., their maximum reach). The goal of this research is to eventually program assistive robots to attend to the same information that people use. In turn, the assistive robot can help people who cannot perform certain actions and need assistance.
My next research project will focus on affordance-perception within virtual reality environments. I am interested in knowing how people’s perception of their own action capabilities might change with a novel, immersive environment. The goal is to learn how to better design virtual environments that encourage natural, exploratory behavior.
Career Aspirations: Upon graduating with my PhD, I would like to work for a multi-disciplinary VR research lab that focuses on developing immersive, educational experiences (e.g., Framestore’s partnership with Lockheed Martin: Field Trip to Mars). I am excited to see how VR will continue to expand beyond purely entertainment purposes. I would like to be involved in the research and development process to ensure that future virtual experiences are accessible and inclusive for all people.
Additionally, I would like to be involved in programs that support young women to realize their potential and get excited about a career in STEM.
Fun Fact: Although I am shy, I rather enjoy public speaking. My favorite and most cherished public speaking opportunity was my 2017 TEDx talk, Reshaping Life’s Garden. Throughout the talk, I discuss ways to evaluate your life in order to properly implement change to support your future self.
Advice to younger students: Lead with curiosity and ask questions. I fell into the field of Human Factors because I kept diving down the rabbit hole of what made me curious. Reach out to your network or people who fascinate you. Pick their brains, request for mentorship, or ask for opportunities to collaborate.
Advocate for yourself; don’t let self-doubt close doors that you want to open. The worst thing that someone could say is “no.”
Do not be afraid to deviate from the path of normality and what’s expected. There is no one perfect path to pursue. Rather than following what is merely expected of you, be intentional and choose your own path. You will thank yourself later.
If you would like to connect, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Chapter Members Eleanor Foster, Nicholas Garcia, and McKenna Tornblad volunteered at the Guadalupe Community Center on March 5th, 2021. The group spent the day assisting the youth center with a variety of activities. Those activities included cleaning windows and picking up garbage around the facility and playground to ensure a clean environment for the kids attending the community center. The chapter would like to give a special thanks to the Guadalupe Center for having us, Nick and McKenna for volunteering, and Eleanor for planning such a great volunteer opportunity!
Name: Daxton Mitchell
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
Year in program: 2nd Year
Research Interest: My research interests center around virtual reality and its application to the realms of human-robot interaction and visual attention. I'm especially interested in how people's perception, cognition, and behavior change around robots while they are immersed in a virtual environment. Understanding the potential changes to these aspects of human workers could help us design more effective and safer training programs for people that work closely with robots.
Career Aspirations: After completing my education at Texas Tech, I plan to help develop the next generation of virtual and augmented reality headsets as well as using extended reality to assist in training workers across many domains.
Fun Fact: One of my pet cats loves to sit in my lap during virtual meetings and classes so that he can take a nap while I work!
Advice to younger students: Take time for self-care, whatever that may look like for you. Graduate school has many academic and professional challenges, but personal development can be just as important as professional development.
Don't Get Caught Out of the Loop!