Leia Stirling joins the Industrial and Operations Engineering faculty

Leia Stirling will join the U-M IOE faculty as an associate professor this fall. | Short Read

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.

IMAGE:  Leia Strling (Right) and other MIT and NASA Jet Propulsion Lab researchers along with former Astronaut Jeff Hoffman use a sensor sleeve to evaluate a gesture interface system for controlling a simulated robotic arm.

“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.

"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."Leia Stirling, Associate Professor, U-M Industrial & Operations Engineering

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.

IMAGE:  An MIT intern in the MIT Lincoln Laboratory STRIVE Center Virtual Reality dome wearing a Dephy exoskeleton and motion capture markers.

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.

“We are excited to have Leia join IOE. She is an outstanding scholar who brings expertise in many high priority areas for the department including human factors, human-system interaction and healthcare.”

Brian Denton, Professor and Chair, U-M Industrial & Operations Engineering

“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.

Stirling will also have appointments within U-M IOE’s Center for Ergonomics as core faculty and the U-M Robotics Institute as an affiliate.


  • Leia Stirling

    Leia Stirling

    Associate Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering