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Prof. Ji-Eun Kim Wins NSF CAREER Award for Research in Vigilance


I.S.E. Assistant Professor Ji-Eun Kim

The University of Washington's Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering is thrilled to announce Assistant Professor Ji-Eun Kim has been awarded the esteemed National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award. This recognition comes as a testament to her innovative research on vigilance decrement in clinical environments, a critical issue with far-reaching implications for healthcare quality and patient safety.

Mitigating Vigilance Decrement

Vigilance refers to the ability to maintain focus and attention over extended periods, especially when tasked with monitoring for occasional and unpredictable signals or events. Dr. Kim's research proposal, "CAREER: Mitigating vigilance decrement in the clinical environment," aims to address an urgent and often overlooked challenge in healthcare: maintaining consistent vigilance levels over time. The decline in performance when vigilance decreases, known as vigilance decrement, poses particular concern in clinical settings, as these environments often require long hours and shift work, with consequential effects on healthcare quality and patient safety.

The core of Dr. Kim’s research revolves around the hypothesis that a physiological sensor-based, self-monitoring system can reduce vigilance decrement, significantly enhancing the safety and efficiency of high-risk work systems. Her work strives to both advance our understanding of vigilance decrement, as well as provide practical solutions to mitigate its impact. The implications extend beyond clinical settings, and into areas such as transportation and air traffic control, where operators similarly must perform demanding tasks under high workload, high-risk situations. The interdisciplinary nature of the project highlights far-reaching opportunities and areas of influence within the vast field of industrial and systems engineering.


Professor Kim's Statement:

"I am so grateful to be a recipient of the NSF CAREER award. I am thankful to the graduate and undergraduate researchers in my Human and Systems lab, my colleagues and the NSF.

"I believe this award will provide further momentum to move closer to my ultimate research and educational goal of creating personalized training and self-monitoring systems that meet the diverse needs of users who will feel included and independent during technology-based learning."

Explore her research

Engineering for the Individual

Dr. Kim's journey at the University of Washington has been characterized by her commitment to constructing integrative models that predict individualized training performance using multimodal data gathered through qualitative and quantitative measurements. This interest in creating equitable experiences is also reflected in Dr. Kim’s approach to research collaborators, where she employs participation from diverse groups, including students from Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), the State Academic RedShirt and Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) programs. Currently, Dr. Kim is the director of the Human and Systems Laboratory, and also Faculty Advisor for the popular UW Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

A Role-Model in Research

The NSF CAREER Award recognizes early-career faculty members poised to serve as academic role models in research and education, and to spearhead advancements in the mission of their department or organization. This award underscores Dr. Kim's significant contributions to her field and her promising trajectory in the pursuit of future breakthroughs.

Please join the Department of Industrial Engineering in congratulating Dr. Kim on this well-deserved recognition. We look forward to the invaluable contributions her research will continue to bring to the University of Washington, and to the betterment of working conditions in demanding environments.

Originally published July 31, 2023