NIOSH Training Program

NIOSH Training Program @ ISE

Program Overview

This NIOSH training program is hosted by ISE’s Human-Systems Engineering. The program was initiated in 1999 by Drs. Gary Mirka and Carolyn Sommerich to address the need to reduce occupational injuries and illnesses in North Carolina as well as southeastern U.S.

The purpose of this program is to help graduate students become occupational safety and ergonomics professionals of the future by conducting scholarly research in the areas of human-systems engineering, including but not limited to occupational biomechanics, virtual and augmented reality, brain-computer interfaces, cognitive ergonomics, and human-robot collaboration. The research efforts are aimed at improving our understanding of human cognitive and physical capabilities as bases for complex system designs.

Particularly, this training program in ISE highlights the Safety and Ergonomics component of the NIOSH-funded  NC Occupational Safety and Health Education & Research Center (NC OSHERC). The other four components in NC OSHERC are

  • Occupational Exposure Science (UNC)
  • Total Worker Health (UNC)
  • Occupational Epidemiology (UNC) and
  • Occupational Medicine (DUKE)

Interested in joining the program? Contact any faculty member in Human-Systems Engineering

Program Structure

Admission Criteria

  • 3.0 GPA
  • GRE scores of Verbal ≥ 150, Quantitative ≥ 153, Analytical Writing ≥ 3.0
  • Minorities are encouraged to apply
  • Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for support

Financial Support

  • 9-month stipend – currently $2,196/month
  • 3-month summer research support or internship
  • Tuition support and State of NC health insurance during your degree

M.S. and Ph.D. Programs

  • In additional to each respective degree’s requirements, trainees in NIOSH training programs must take ISE540, ISE541, ISE544, ISE741, ISE744 or ISE745, ISE794 or ISE796.
  • Students must also take ENVR 795 and ENVR 423, as offered by the ERC components at UNC.

Current Human-Systems Engineering Courses through NC State ISE and Psychology

  • ISE/PSY 540 – Human Factors in Systems Design
  • ISE 541 – Occupational Safety Engineering
  • ISE 544 – Occupational Biomechanics
  • ISE/PSY 740 – Engineering Psychology of Human-computer Interaction
  • ISE 741 – Systems Safety Engineering
  • ISE/PSY 743 – Ergonomic Performance Assessment
  • ISE 744 – Human Information Processing
  • ISE/PSY 745 – Human Performance Modeling
  • ISE 794 – Advanced Problems in Ergonomics
  • ISE 796 – Research Practicum in Occupational Biomechanics

Recent Achievements

Recent NIOSH Program Graduates, Research Topics, and First Employers after Graduation

Current Funded NIOSH Trainees


  • Nathan Sanders
  • Liliana Gomez


  • Maya Peleg

Selected Peer-reviewed Publications by NIOSH Trainees

  1. Li, L., Hutmacher Jr, C. M., & Xu, X. (2019). Video-Based Driver’s Hand Tracking using Fast Normalized Cross Coefficient with Improved Computational Efficiency. Transportation research record2673 (8), 233-241.
  2. Rose, T., Nam, C.S., Chen, K. B. (2018). Immersion of Virtual Reality for Rehabilitation – Review, Applied Ergonomics, 69, 153–161.
  3. Pankok, C. & Kaber, D. B. (2017). An integrated measure of display clutter based on feature content, user knowledge, and attention allocation factors. Ergonomics, 14, 1-15. DOI: 10.1080/00140139.2017.1401669.
  4. Pankok, C., Zahabi, M., Zhang, W., Choi, I., Liao, Y-F., Nam, C-S. & Kaber, D. B. (2017). The effects of interruption similarity and complexity on performance in a visual­manual mock assembly operation. Applied Ergonomics, 59(A), 94-103. DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2016.08.022.
  5. Rasdorf, W., Machado, P., Hummer, J, Kaber, D., Zahabi, M., Lau, M. & Pankok, C. (2017). The impact of nine-panel logo signs, logo familiarity, logo format, and drivers’ age on food and attraction target identification. Transportation Research Record (Journal of the Transportation Research Board), Vol. 2624, DOI: 10.3141/2624-02.
  6. White, M., Zhang, W., Winslow, A., Zahabi, M., Zhang, F., Huang, H. & Kaber, D. B. (2017). Usability comparison of conventional direct control vs. Pattern recognition control of an upper-limb prosthesis. IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, 47(6), 1146-1157.
  7. White, M. M., Morejon, O. N., Liu, S. J., Lau, M. Y., Nam, C. S., & Kaber, D. B. (2017). Muscle loading in exoskeletal orthotic use in an activity of daily living. Applied Ergonomics, 58, 190-197.
  8. Zahabi, M., Machado, P., Pankok, C., Lau, M-Y., Liao, Y-F., Hummer, J., Rasdorf, W. & Kaber, D. B. (2017). The role of driver age in performance and attention allocation effects of roadway sign count, format and familiarity. Applied Ergonomics, 63, 17-30. DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2017.04.001.
  9. Zahabi, M., Machado, P., Pankok, C., Lau, M-Y., Liao, Y-F, Hummer, J., Rasdorf, W. & Kaber, D. B. (2017). Driver performance and attention allocation in the use of logo signs on freeway exit ramps. Applied Ergonomics, 65, 70-80. DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2017.06.001.
  10. Zahabi, M., Pankok, C., Kaber, D. B., Machado, P., Lau, M-Y., Hummer, J. & Rasdorf, W. (2017). On-road visual sign salience, driver attention allocation, and target detection accuracy. Transportation Research Record (Journal of the Transportation Research Board), Vol. 2663, DOI: 10.3141/2663-06.
  11. Zahabi, M., Zhang, W., Pankok, C., Lau, M-Y., Shirley, J. & Kaber, D. B. (2017). Effect of physical workload and modality of information presentation on pattern recognition and navigation task performance by high-fit young males. Ergonomics, 60(11), 1516-1527. DOI: 10.1080/00140139.2017.1324115.