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Professor Cummings focuses on research involving human supervisory control and human interaction with complex, autonomous systems. With the explosion of automated technology, the need for humans as supervisors of complex automatic control systems has replaced the need for humans in direct manual control. A consequence of complex, highly automated domains in which the human decision-maker is more on-the-loop than in-the-loop is that the level of required cognition has moved from that of well rehearsed skill execution and rule following to higher, more abstract levels of knowledge synthesis, judgment, and reasoning.
Her current projects include human-unmanned vehicle interaction, bounded collaborative human-computer decision making, direct perception decision support, information complexity in displays, design of highly autonomous command centers, and the ethical and social impact of technology. She currently teaches an undergraduate course in Human Factors Engineering, and graduate classes in Human Supervisory Control and Design of Experiments. Professor Cummings received her B.S. in Mathematics from the United States Naval Academy in 1988, her M.S. in Space Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1994, and her Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia in 2003. A naval officer and military pilot from 1988-1999, she was one of the Navy's first female fighter pilots.
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