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Professor Penelope Sanderson
  – Professor of Cognitive Engineering and Human Factors

Picture of 'Professor Penelope Sanderson'
Professor Penelope Sanderson
Penelope holds a joint appointment with the Schools of Psychology, ITEE and Medicine and her area of research is human factors psychology. She joined the School in 2002 after a career including 11 years at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At UQ she leads the Cognitive Engineering Research Group (CERG). Her work has been recognised by several awards and honours including the HFESA’s Cumming Memorial Medal and Lecture (2014), the HFES’s Paul M Fitts Education Award (2012) and Distinguished International Colleague Award (2004), the APA’s Franklin V. Taylor Award (2012), as well as a UQ Award for Excellence in Research Higher Degree Supervision (2015).
+61 7 3346 9529
+61 7 3365 4466 (School of Psychology)
Postal Address:

School of Psychology
McElwain Building
The University of Queensland
St Lucia, QLD

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Picture of 'Professor Penelope Sanderson'
Professor Penelope Sanderson

PhD (Engineering Psychology) University of Toronto, 1985
MA (Cognitive Psychology) University of Toronto, 1981
BA (Hons I) (Cognitive Psychology) University of WA, 1979
Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, 2004+
Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (USA), 2012+
Fellow of the International Ergonomics Association, 2015+


Joint appointment between School of ITEE, School of Psychology, and School of Medicine at UQ.

Past appointments:

  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997-2006.
  • Professor of HCI/Cognitive Engineering, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia, 1997-2001. 
  • Director of Swinburne Computer Human Interaction Research Laboratory (SCHIL), 1997-2001.
  • Associate Professor (tenured), Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Department of Psychology, and Institute of Aviation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1991-1996.
  • Assistant Professor (tenure-track), Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Department of Psychology, and Institute of Aviation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1985-1991.
Professional Activities:

Leader, Cognitive Engineering Research Group (CERG), The University of Queensland.
Leader, Cognitive Systems Engineering Group, School of ITEE.
Director, ARC Key Centre for Human Factors, The University of Queensland
Responsible for development and operation of the University of Queensland Usability Laboratory (UQUL).

Editorial and editorial board responsibilities

  • Associate Editor, Human Factors, 2014-2015
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 2012-2013
  • Consulting Editor, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 2007-2011 and 2014-present. 
  • Editorial Board, Human Factors, 1986-1997 and 2005-present. 
  • Regional Editor, Cognition Technology and Work, 2000-present. 
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, 2005-present.
  • Associate Editor, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 2002-2005.


  • UQ Award for Excellence in Research Higher Degree Supervision, 2015
  • Elected Fellow of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA), 2015
  • Cumming Memorial Medal and Lecture for 2014, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia (HFESA)
  • Paul M. Fitts Education Award for 2012 for outstanding contributions to the education and training of HF specialists, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES - USA)
  • Elected Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES - USA) in 2012.
  • American Psychological Association (APA) Franklin V. Taylor Award for 2012 for distinguished contributions to Engineering Psychology and Applied Experimental Psychology.
  • UK Royal Academy of Engineering Distinguished Visiting Fellowship for 2009, Middlesex University.
  • Jerome H. Ely Human Factors Article Award for 2005 for the most outstanding article in Human Factors during 2004, from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES - USA) (with M. Watson)
  • Elected Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, 2004.
  • Distinguished International Colleague Award for 2004, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES - USA)
  • Jerome H. Ely Award for 1990 for the most outstanding article in Human Factors during 1989, from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES - USA)
Picture of 'Professor Penelope Sanderson'
Professor Penelope Sanderson
Research Activities:

Engineering psychology, human factors, cognitive systems engineering, health informatics, cognitive work analysis, visual and auditory perception and attention.

Representative Publications:

McCurdie, T., SANDERSON, P., Aitken, L, & Liu, D. (in press). Two sides to every story: the Dual Perspectives Method for examining interruptions in healthcare. Applied Ergonomics.

Hassall, M., SANDERSON, P., & Cameron, I. (in press). Incident analysis: A case study comparison of traditional and SAfER methods. Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making.

Nadler, I., McLanders, M., SANDERSON, P., & Liley, H. (in press). Time without ventilation during intubation in neonates as a patient-centred measure of performance. Resuscitation.

Deschamps, M.-L., SANDERSON, P., Hinckfuss, K., Browning, C., Loeb, R. G., Liley, H., & Liu, D. (2016). Improving the detectqability of oxygen saturation levels for preterm neonates: A laboratory test of tremolo and beacon sonifications. Applied Ergonomics, 56, 160-169. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2016.03.013

Loeb, R., Brecknell, B., & SANDERSON, P. (2016). The sounds of desaturation: A survey of commercial pulse oximeter sonifications. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 122(5), 1395-1403. doi:10.1213/ANE.0000000000001240
See also editorial by Schlesinger (2016) - doi:10.1213/ANE.0000000000001203

Heard, G., Thomas, R., & SANDERSON, P. (2016). In the aftermath: Attitudes of anesthesiologists to supportive strategies following an unexpected intra-operative patient death. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 122(5), 1614-1624. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000001227

Paterson, E., SANDERSON, P., Paterson, N., Liu, D., & Loeb, R. (2016). The effectiveness of pulse oximetry sonification enhanced with tremolo and brightness for distinguishing clinical important oxygen saturation ranges: A laboratory study. Anaesthesia, 71, 565-572. doi10.1111/anae.13424 

Grundgeiger, T., Dekker, S., SANDERSON, P., Brecknell, B., Liu, D., & Aitken, L. (2016). Obstacles to research on the effects of interruptions in healthcare. BMJ Quality and Safety. doi: 10.1136/bmjqs-2015-004083

Hinckfuss, K., SANDERSON, P., Loeb, R., Liley, H., & Liu, D. (2016). Novel pulse oximetry sonifications for neonatal oxygen saturation monitoring: A laboratory study. Human Factors, 58, 344-359. doi: 10.1177/0018720815617406

Marshall, S., Sanderson, P., Macintosh, C., & Kolawole, H. (2016). The effect of two cognitive aid designs on team functioning during intraoperative analphylaxis emergencies: A multi-centre simulation study. Anaesthesia, 71, 389-404. doi: 10.1111/anae.13332

Atyeo, J., & SANDERSON, P. (2015). Comparison of the identification and ease of use of two alarm sound sets by critical care nurses with little or no music training: A laboratory study. Anaesthesia, 70, 818-827. doi:10.1111/anae.13020
See also commentary on above paper by J. Edworthy, Anaesthesia, 70, 1215.

SANDERSON, P., & Grundgeiger, T. (2015). How do interruptions affect clinician performance in healthcare? Negotiating fidelity, control, and potential generalizability in the search for answers. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 79, 85-96. doi:10.1016/j.ijhcs.2014.11.003

Hassall, M., SANDERSON, P., & Cameron, I. (2014). Can the decision ladder framework help inform industry risk assessment processes? Ergonomics Australia, 10(3), 1-5. [pdf]

Grundgeiger, T., SANDERSON, P., & Dismukes, K. (2014). Prospective memory in complex sociotechnical systems. Zeitschrift fuer Psychologie [Journal of Psychology], 222(2), 100-109.

Hassall, M., SANDERSON, P., & Cameron, I. (2014). The development and testing of SAfER: A resilience-based human factors method. Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, 8(2), 162-186.

Xiao, T., & SANDERSON, P. (2014). Evaluating the generalizability of the Organisational Constraints Analysis framework: A hospital bed management case study. Cognition, Technology, & Work, 16, 229-246.

Neal, A., Hannah, S., SANDERSON, P., Bolland, S., Mooij, M., & Murphy, S. (2014). Development and validation of a multilevel model for predicting workload under routine and non-routine conditions in an Air Traffic Management center. Human Factors, 56(2), 287-305.

Grundgeiger, T., Harris, B., Ford, N., Abbey, M., SANDERSON, P., & Venkatesh, B. (in press). Emergency medical equipment storage: Benefits of visual cues tested in field and simulated settings. Human Factors

Vuckovic, A., SANDERSON, P., Neal, A., Gaukrodger, S., & Wong, W. (2013). Relative Positive Vectors: An alternative approach to conflict detection in Air Traffic Control. Human Factors

Grundgeiger, T., SANDERSON, P. Beltran Orihuela, C., Thompson, A., MacDougall, H, Nunnink, L., & Venkatesh, B. (2013). Prospective memory in the ICU: The effect of visual clues on task execution in a representative simulation. Ergonomics

Hassall, M. & SANDERSON, P. (2012). A formative approach to the Strategies Analysis phase of Cognitive Work Analysis. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science. DOI:10.1080/1463922X.2012.725781

Adolph, K., Gilmore, R., Freeman, C., SANDERSON, P., & Millman, D. (2012). Toward open behavioral science. Commentary on Nosek & Bar-Anan's "Scientific Utopia: I. Opening scientific communication." Psychological Inquiry, 23(3), 244-247.

Heard, G., SANDERSON, P., & Thomas, R. (2012). Barriers to adverse event and error reporting in anesthesia. Anesthesia and Analgesia. 114(3), 584-589.

Nadler, I., SANDERSON, P., & Liley, H. (2011). The accuracy of clinical assessments as a measure for teamwork effectiveness. Simulation in Healthcare, 6(5), 260-268.

Nadler, I., SANDERSON, P., Van Dyken, C., Davis, P., & Liley, H. (2011). Presenting video recordings of newborn resuscitations in debriefings for teamwork training. BMJ Quality and Safety, 20(2), 163-169

Grundgeiger, T., SANDERSON, P., MacDougall, H., & Venkatesh, B. (2010). Interruption management in the Intensive Care Unit: Predicting resumption times and assessing distributed support. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 16(4), 317-334.

Thompson, M., Tear, M., & SANDERSON, P. (2010). Multisensory integration with a head-mounted display: The role of mental and manual load, Human Factors, 52(1), 92-104.

Harrison, W., Thompson, M., & SANDERSON, P. (2010). Multisensory integration with a head-mounted display: Background visual motion and sound motion. Human Factors, 52(1), 78-91.

Nadler, I., Liley, H., & SANDERSON, P. (2010). Clinicians can accurately assign Apgar scores to video recordings of simulated neonatal resuscitations. Simulation in Healthcare, 5(4), 204-212.

Liu, D., Jenkins, S., SANDERSON, P., Fabian, P., & Russell, W. J. (2010). Monitoring with head-mounted displays: A clinical evaluation in the operating room. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 110(4), 1032-1038.

SANDERSON, P. M., Liu, D., & Jenkins, S. (2009). Auditory displays in anaesthesiology. Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology, 22(6), 788-795.

Liu, D., Jenkins, S., & SANDERSON, P. M. (2009). Patient monitoring with head-mounted displays. Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology, 22(6), 796-803.

Saleem, J. J., Russ, A. L., SANDERSON, P. M., Johnson, T. R., Zhang, J., & Sittig, D. F. (2009). Current challenges and opportunities for better integration of human factors research with development of clinical information systems. IMIA Yearbook of Medical Informatics, 48-58.

Liu, D., Jenkins, S., SANDERSON, P. M., Watson, M. O., Russell, W. J., Leane, T., & Kruys, A. (2009). Monitoring with head-mounted displays: Performance and safety in a full-scale simulator and part-task trainer. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 109(4), 1135-1146.

Anderson, J., & SANDERSON, P. (2009). Sonification design for complex work domains: Dimensions and distractors. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. 15(3), 183-198.

Grundgeiger, T., & SANDERSON, P. (2009). Interruptions in healthcare: Theoretical views. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 78, 293-307.

Liu, D., Grundgeiger, T., SANDERSON, P. M., Jenkins, S., & Leane, T. (2009). Interruptions and blood transfusion checks: Lessons from the simulated operating room. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 107(1), 219-222.

Thompson, M., & SANDERSON, P. M. (2008). Multisensory integration with a head-mounted display: Sound delivery and self-motion. Human Factors, 50(5), 789-800.

SANDERSON, P. M., Watson, M. O., Russell, W. J., Jenkins, S., Liu, D., Green, N., Llewelyn, K., Cole, P., Shek, V., Krupenia, S. (2008). Advanced auditory displays and head mounted displays: Advantages and disadvantages for monitoring by the distracted anesthesiologist. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 106(6), 1787-1797.

Wee, A., & SANDERSON, P. (2008). Are melodic medical equipment alarms easily learned? Anesthesia and Analgesia. 106(2), 501-508. 

Memisevic, R., SANDERSON, P., Wong, W., Choudhury, S., & Li, X. (2007). Investigating human-system interaction with an integrated hydropower and market system simulator. IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, 22(2), 762-769

Lacherez, P., Seah, E., & SANDERSON, P. (2007). Overlapping medical alarms are almost indiscriminable. Human Factors, 49(4), 637-645.

Loft, S., SANDERSON, P., Mooij, M., & Neal, A. (2007). Modeling and predicting mental workload in en route Air Traffic Control: Critical review and broader implications. Human Factors, 49(3), 376-399.

Watson, M., & SANDERSON, P. (2007). Designing for attention with sound: Challenges and extensions to Ecological Interface Design. Human Factors, 49(2), 331-346.

SANDERSON, P. (2006). The multimodal world of medical monitoring displays. Applied Ergonomics, 37(4), 501-512. [Based on invited plenary address to the International Ergonomics Association Triennial Congress (IEA2006). Maastricht, The Netherlands. 10-14 July, 2006.]

SANDERSON, P., Wee, A., & Lacherez, P. (2006). Learnability and discriminability of melodic medical equipment alarms. Anaesthesia, 61, 142-147.

Li, X., SANDERSON, P. Wong, W. B.-L., Memisevic, R., & Choudhury, S. (2006). Evaluating functional displays for hydropower system: Model-based guidance of scenario design. Cognition, Technology, and Work, 8(4), 269-282.

SANDERSON, P., Tosh, N., Philp, S., Rudie, J., Watson, M., & Russell, W. J. (2005). Effects of ambient music on simulated anaesthesia monitoring with visual and auditory displays. Anaesthesia, 60(11), 1073-1078.

SANDERSON, P. Watson, M., & Russell, W. J. (2005). Advanced patient monitoring displays: Tools for continuous informing. Anesthesia & Analgesia, 101(1), 161-168.

Watson, M. & SANDERSON, P. (2004). Sonification helps eyes-free respiratory monitoring and task timesharing. Human Factors, 46(3), 497-517. [Winner of the 2005 HFES (USA) Jerome Ely Award for Best Paper in Human Factors in 2004].

Reising, D. C. & SANDERSON, P. (2004). Minimally adequate instrumentation in an ecological interface may compromise failure diagnosis. Human Factors, 46(2), 317-333.

SANDERSON, P., Crawford, J., Savill, A., Watson, M., & Russell, W. J. (2004). Visual and auditory attention in patient monitoring: A formative analysis. Cognition, Technology, & Work. 6(3), 172-185.

Watson, M., SANDERSON, P., & Russell, W. J. (2004). Tailoring reveals information requirements: The case of anaesthesia alarms. Interacting with Computers, 16, 271-293.

Naikar, N., Drumm, D., Pearce, B., & SANDERSON, P. (2003). Designing teams for first-of-a-kind, complex systems using the initial phases of cognitive work analysis: Case study. Human Factors, 45(2), 202-217.

SANDERSON, P., Pipingas, A., Danieli, F., & Silberstein, R. (2003). Process monitoring and configural display design: A neuroimaging study. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science, 4 (2), 151-174.

SANDERSON, P. M. (2003). Cognitive Work Analysis. In J. Carroll (Ed.), HCI Models, Theories, and Frameworks: Toward an Interdisciplinary Science. New York: Morgan-Kaufmann.

Reising, D. C., & SANDERSON, P. (2002-a). Ecological Interface Design for Pasteurizer II: A Process Description of Semantic Mapping. Human Factors, 44(2), 222-247.

Reising, D. C., & SANDERSON, P. (2002-b). Work domain analysis and sensors I: Principles and simple example. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 56(6), 569-596.

Reising, D. C., & SANDERSON, P. (2002-c). Work domain analysis and sensors II: Pasteurizer II case study. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 56(6), 597-637.

Naikar, N., & SANDERSON, P. (2001). Evaluating system design proposals with work domain analysis. Human Factors, 43(4). 529-542.

Seagull, F. J., & SANDERSON, P. M. (2001). Anesthesia alarms in surgical context: An observational study. Human Factors, 43(1), 66-77.

Watson, M., Russell, W. J., & SANDERSON, P. (2000). Anaesthesia monitoring, alarm proliferation, and ecological interface design. Australian Journal of Information Systems, 7(2), 109-114.

Naikar, N. & SANDERSON, P. M. (1999). Work domain analysis for training system definition and acquisition. International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 9(3), 271-290.

Course Coordinator:
  • Semester 2, 2017
    PSYC3062 - Introduction to Human Factors (was Skills & Human Factors)
  • Semester 1, 2016
    PSYC3062 - Introduction to Human Factors (was Skills & Human Factors)
  • Semester 1, 2015
    PSYC3062 - Introduction to Human Factors (was Skills & Human Factors)
  • Semester 1, 2014
    PSYC3062 - Introduction to Human Factors (was Skills & Human Factors)
  • Semester 1, 2013
    PSYC3062 - Introduction to Human Factors (was Skills & Human Factors)
  • Semester 1, 2012
    PSYC3062 - Introduction to Human Factors (was Skills & Human Factors)
  • Semester 2, 2012
    PSYC4991 - Advanced Seminar in Psych 1

Note: Coordinator roles prior to 2009 and tutor roles prior to 2006 are not included.

Research Area:
Human Factors

COGNITION, PERCEPTION, AND HUMAN FACTORS. In my research group we are using theoretical knowledge of perception, action, attention and memory to better design the fit between people and demanding work environments (critical care medicine, transportation, military contexts, etc.). Some sample thesis topics follow -- many others are possible. Ultimately, the thesis topic and scope are decided collaboratively with each honours student.

1. Prospective memory, interruptions, and distractions

Concern about the impact of workplace interruptions and distractions is very topical in basic and applied psychology right now. Many kinds of safety critical work (aviation, healthcare) require people to manage multiple threads of work at the same time. What effect do distractions and interruptions have on people's work, and is there a need for remedies of some kind? Theories of prospective memory have helped us make some progress in the area, but much more work needs to be done. You would run a study in the UQ Usability Laboratory that examines how people manage interruptions.

2. Do head-worn displays help healthcare practitioners monitor multiple patients?

With the advent of wearable personal technologies such as head-worn displays (HWDs), we need to understand their impact on visual attention (see the Vuzix M100 and the ORA-2 for two sample HWDs). In the UQ Usability Laboratory we are investigating when HWDs are/are not helpful when users must monitor multiple patients. The results will influence how HWDs are used in healthcare, the military context, and in everyday life. Your lab-based study could be one of those studies. 

3. How can auditory displays help doctors and nurses monitor the status of newborn babies or monitor anaesthetised patients during surgery?

We have an ongoing partnership with personnel at Mater Hospital and University of Florida on the design of auditory displays for different patient monitoring contexts--two examples are monitoring the oxygen status of neonates, and monitoring the vital signs of adults undergoing anesthesia. Your thesis on auditory displays for patient monitoring could break new ground and help improve outcomes for patients of all ages. 

RESEARCH GROUP AND LABORATORY. We provide a structured and highly supportive environment for honours students. Most of our honours students end up publishing their theses and several students have had the opportunity to subsequently travel interstate or overseas to present their honours research. In 2016, our honours student Hai-Ping Lim won the McElwain Prize for the best individual thesis in the School of Psychology. 

See for more information about the work of our research group. We are based in the UQ Usability Laboratory in Level 1 of the McElwain Building--see for a glimpse of our research environment. 

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE. If you'd like research experience in our group before starting an honours thesis, or if you'd just like to learn about human factors, you might consider taking PSYC2991 or PSYC2992: see Sanderson entry at

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