This fall, U-M Industrial and Operations Engineering (IOE) welcomes Leia Stirling to its faculty as an associate professor.
Stirling’s research interests include the human factors and biomechanics associated with human-machine interaction, including the interactions between physical and cognitive performance for wearable technology. Her teaching interests center on human systems design and experimental methods.
“I am delighted to be joining the research community at U-M and have the opportunity to collaborate on topics related to human health and performance, including human-technology interaction,” Stirling said.
Stirling completed her PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 2008 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) after completing both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2003 and 2005, respectively.
Since completing her degrees, Stirling has served as a postdoctoral researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, a senior staff engineer at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and, most recently, an assistant professor at MIT from 2013 to 2019.
At MIT, Stirling served as a co-director of the Human Systems Laboratory, which performs research to improve the understanding of human physiological and cognitive capabilities in order to optimize human-system effectiveness and to develop appropriate countermeasures and evidence-based engineering design criteria.
Stirling applies the different domains of her research interests to the development of tightly coupled human-machine systems, including using wearable technology such as motion sensors to quantify human performance for high-stress environments like clinical and space applications. She also works with human-exosystem adaptation and researches how wearable technology can be used to improve a person’s physical performance without affecting their cognitive performance. In her work, Stirling emphasizes the importance of focusing on the person in addition to the technology.
“I have ongoing projects related to the usability of exoskeletons, interacting with small satellites to inspect spacecraft anomalies, and using wearable sensors to measure human motor strategies,” she said.
In addition to her work with wearable technology, Stirling has been active in the MIT Museum’s education programs designed to expand elementary and high school age students’ participation in STEM fields. As part of her 2019-2020 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Leshner Fellowship, she intends to further her work with young students and provide opportunities for current U-M IOE students to work with the AAAS public engagement team.