Group Policy

The information provided on this page was developed in collaboration with group members and is a living document. We annually review and edit our mission, values, and responsibilities together and come to a consensus that includes listening to and respecting everyone’s input. Anyone in the group may suggest and lead discussion on these topics, which may generate updates in the lab values and policies.

Our Research Mission

In this interdisciplinary research group, we bring together methods from human factors, biomechanics, and robotics. We strive to understand the physical and cognitive interactions for goal-oriented human task performance and support operational decision making that relies on manual task performance. These goals may include reducing musculoskeletal injury risks, supporting telehealth, and improving technology usability. However, the term performance is not universally defined and requires learning about the desired task goals and the sub-tasks and motions the human will need to accomplish them. Our data is diverse and comes from direct sensor measures (e.g. inertial measurement units on a person), observational methods, self-reports, and expert evaluations. All sources of data are valuable and help us to interpret performance in the appropriate context. 

In our research, we perform human studies. These data support algorithm development for wearable sensors, as well as assessing what motor strategies people choose under certain constraints, how cognitive tasks are affected by physical tasks, and how technology interacts with these elements. Human research is challenging; there is variability in which strategies people may select and in how each person responds to the addition of technology. We value this variability. Everyone is unique and we learn from each individual. When we develop hypotheses for our human studies, they may not always be supported. We are open in thinking about how our study results should inform our next steps. Data that does not support a hypothesis is not a negative result, but a set of new knowledge.

In our research, we are collaborative. We have ongoing collaborations with others at the University of Michigan and in the broader academic community. We also collaborate with a variety of different subject matter experts based on the research question, including people in clinical environments, at NASA, and within the U.S. Army. We select projects aligned with our research goals and values that allow us to support our passions, whether they are crewed lunar spaceflight or augmenting current rehabilitation care.   

Our Values

  • We value a person’s well being. The person may be in our group, our community, or our broader society.  
  • We value our own self-worth. We recognize that an academic environment can be challenging and we may sometimes question ourselves. In these times, it is important to communicate if you need support from a peer, Prof. Stirling, and/or through C.A.R.E
  • We value work-life integration. It may not always be possible to balance these elements, and individuals will integrate them in different ways that support their needs. We communicate if we are struggling. We expect people to perform their research, but also to eat, sleep, and socialize.
  • We value diversity and inclusion. We respect each individual for who they are regardless of how they self-identify, whether by race, ethnicity, gender identity, or place of birth.
  • We value equity. Each individual is coming from a different background and we support the needs of others to enable each individual to be successful.
  • We value international researchers. We may sometimes bring in export-controlled materials or data for some of our projects (e.g., space suit components). While these items have restrictions, we only bring these to our lab if we can define limitations such that we maintain an inclusive environment.
  • We value setting realistic expectations on timelines for projects. If an expectation is set that is found during the course of work to be unrealistic, these concerns are voiced and expectations re-evaluated. We are mindful of our own limits.
  • We respect our colleagues. This respect includes open, honest, and professional communication, as well as timely feedback. We do not put down or insult our colleagues.
  • We respect our scientific community. We acknowledge that there are many groups working on relevant and interesting topics. We cite the ideas of others and acknowledge contributions from others in our own work. We never plagiarize from others or falsify our data.
  • We value public engagement. Individuals may pursue different forms of public engagement, such as K-12 outreach, policy development, community science forums, etc. 
  • We value flexibility in research topics. Postdoc- and student-proposed research topics are valued and encouraged, provided the topics align with the mission of the group.
  • We consider the ethical implications of our research towards individuals and society. The potential benefits for a project should outweigh any potential for harm to individuals, groups, and society as a whole.
  • We consider equity in research studies and proposals. When developing research projects, we consider who the research would impact and how they would be impacted. 

Our Expectations and Responsibilities

The academic environment provides a place to learn new skills and gain depth of knowledge. It is a place to receive mentoring and provide mentoring to those at different educational levels. We all have responsibilities to ourselves and those in the group. Our group is not a hierarchy and we all work together and take on different leadership roles based on our previous experiences and desired experiences. All members of the group will have opportunities to present their research within the group and in the broader scientific community.

For Everyone

  • Support your fellow labmates and treat everyone with respect. 
  • Be responsible for your behavior. 
  • To support work-life integration, we maintain flexibility in working hours and respect for personal time. You are not expected to work evenings and weekends. However, if you prefer to work non-standard hours, that is communicated to Prof. Stirling.
  • You may receive an email during off-hours because of how someone else has balanced their time. You are not expected to respond to emails immediately; however, you should respond in a timely manner (e.g., within 24 hours for a weekday if you are not on vacation).
  • You should get involved in your broader community. You should explore opportunities to engage either related or unrelated to your research.
  • If you are struggling, do not struggle alone. You can reach out to people in the lab, your friends, your family, or C.A.R.E. If you notice someone struggling, reach out to the person, or let Prof. Stirling or C.A.R.E know so they can reach out.
  • Be ethical. If you are not sure about something, bring it up privately or in group meeting.
  • All lab members must complete human studies training.
  • All lab members must attend group meetings. If you cannot attend due to a conference or personal reason, let Prof. Stirling know you cannot attend.
  • Mistakes happen. Be honest if you made one or if you discover one. Try your best to work carefully. If you are uncomfortable with a task or equipment, let someone know so you can gain support and guided practice.
  • Be on time and respectful of other people’s time.
  • Work together to establish and communicate reasonable deadlines and timelines clearly and let your colleague know if the request is not possible or needs to change.

PI Stirling

  • Will be available to meet with group members at regular intervals. Typically we will have weekly full group meetings and individual meetings. Some projects have project-specific meetings at regular intervals that bring collaborators together. If you need additional time, just ask to meet.
  • Will support members to work independently and collaboratively, facilitating members to become independent researchers that can also work on team projects.
  • Will provide feedback in a timely manner and with respect.
  • Will support you as you prepare for your career, whatever that path may be (e.g., academic, government, industry, medical, etc.).
  • Will listen to all members of the group.
  • Will be flexible for when the unknown occurs, providing opportunities to change deadlines and goals commensurate with the individual needs.
  • Will be open about funding and supportive of funding opportunities.
  • Will support authorship questions and project responsibilities within the group and with collaborators.
  • Will support defining norms with collaborators and expectations on communication and presentations.
  • Will seek assistance from other faculty and departmental/institutional resources when necessary, providing access to formal opportunities and programs in complementary areas necessary for a successful career.

Postdocs and Research Staff

  • Will be provided reasonable autonomy to pursue research goals and will be given leadership opportunities within projects.
  • Will work with Prof. Stirling to create an individual mentoring plan to support growth. 
  • Will provide mentorship and support to the graduate and undergraduate students in the group.
  • Will get involved in grant writing and project management.

Graduate Students

  • Will support fellow graduate students (e.g., support first-year students to acclimate to graduate school and other students that may have questions related to your expertise).
  • Will work to scope a project. Your PhD is not your career and you are not expected to do everything. You will discover many avenues in your graduate career and it is important to select a subset for your thesis research.
  • Will work with Prof. Stirling to create an individual mentoring plan to support growth.
  • Will advocate for oneself.
  • Will provide mentorship to undergraduate students, and will make sure that they have the time and capacity to support any undergraduates mentored.
  • Will let the group know if there are opportunities for undergraduate projects. (Note that undergraduates should not be treated as a way to get more work done, but as an opportunity to mentor and engage with students at a different stage.)
  • Will connect with graduate students outside our group to build one’s educational and social support network. We learn from many people and are inclusive of these experiences.

Undergraduate Students

  • Will treat research as an opportunity to learn about different types of work and not as a line on a resume
  • Will ask questions. If you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to ask (e.g., terms that are used, algorithms discussed, equipment in the lab, etc.)
  • Will be mentored by others in the lab, provided direction on their project, and support to achieve their goals. All undergraduates will have a main point of contact in the lab (e.g., graduate student, post-doc, or PI).
  • Will have their ideas heard and valued.
  • Will have opportunities to gain leadership responsibilities on a project with continued experience in the group.