Researcher Profile: Bobbie Seppelt, PhD

Researcher Profile: Bobbie Seppelt, PhD


AgeLab Research Scientist Bobbie Seppelt performs research on human-machine interaction and attention management. She was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, before moving to Springfield, Illinois, where she grew up. She received dual bachelor’s degrees in psychology and business from the University of Illinois, followed by a master’s degree in Engineering Psychology / Human Factors. While studying at Illinois, she played the piccolo in the Marching Illini, the university’s marching band, performing at football and basketball games. Bobbie received her PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Iowa’s school of engineering and did her postdoctoral work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the same field.

After Wisconsin, Bobbie took a consulting position with Touchstone Evaluations, a co-founder with the MIT AgeLab of the AHEAD Consortium. She began working closely with AgeLab Research Scientists Bryan Reimer and Bruce Mehler on AHEAD, and later became involved with work on the AVT Consortium. She transitioned to working full-time at the AgeLab in April 2017.

The AHEAD Consortium aims to model and measure demands involved in the interaction between human and machine, so designers and engineers can better devise multi-modal displays that reduce distraction and are more usable for drivers. Bobbie’s work for AHEAD is focused on developing algorithms to measure attentional demand and the management of perceptual resources across driving and non-driving-related activities.

In her work with the AVT Consortium, Bobbie looks at driver use of automated vehicle technologies in real-world environments. Her particular interests are around drivers’ trust in and understanding of automated vehicle technologies, and how these phenomena can be observed through human behavior. She is developing methods and measures to describe human interaction with technology in a dynamic environment, with the goal of quantifying observable driver behaviors more easily.

In October, Bobbie received an AutomotiveUI 2017 Honorable Mention Paper Award for a paper presented at the AutomotiveUI 2017 conference in Oldenberg, Germany.

Outside of the AgeLab, Bobbie enjoys rock climbing outdoors in the Boston area, and spending time with her three children: Oliver, age 11, Hazel, age 9, and Rose, age 6.