Engineering Student Receives Top Honor from Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

December 23, 2009

December 22, 2009 — Leigh Baumgart, a graduate student in the Department of Systems and Information Engineering at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science, was named a Student Member with Honors at the annual meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society in October.

She joined a select rank of just 12 students worldwide to receive the award, the highest honor a student can earn. She is one of three U.Va. students to achieve that level of distinction; the others are systems and information engineering graduate students Justin DeVoge and Matthew Bolton.

To receive the award, a student member of the society must have achieved several milestones, such as serving as first author on a peer-reviewed journal article related to some aspect of human factors research, receiving top grades in human factors classes and actively participating in service activities of the ergonomics society. A student must also have presented research at a national meeting of the society.

A native of Falconer, N.Y., Baumgart has a strong interest in understanding how people interact with technology, whether it be hardware devices, software or large-scale systems.

As a graduate student, she has been working on two projects. One involves physical simulators used to train medical and nursing students to conduct examinations and other procedures before they work on live patients. The other involves understanding how clinicians make decisions about the way they practice health care, and how those decisions affect their practice.

"In health care, there is a lot of room for improvement," Baumgart said. "It's a very exciting field to be working in as an engineer. When I hear about things not working efficiently, I feel passionate about trying to improve them in some way."

Also at the society's annual meeting, U.Va.'s student chapter was designated as a Gold Chapter. For information, visit