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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 10, 2007

UI Researchers Collaborate On Brain Injury And Driving Project

Thanks to a grant from the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), two University of Iowa researchers will collaborate with colleagues at Drexel University on a brain injury and driving project.

Linda Ng Boyle, assistant professor in the UI College of Engineering Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and human factors researcher at the UI Public Policy Center, has been awarded a three-year, $275,000 NICHD grant. Boyle, also a researcher at the National Advanced Driving Simulator and faculty director of the Human Factors and Statistical Modeling Laboratory, will serve as UI principal investigator on the project and Daniel McGehee, director of the Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research Division of the UI Public Policy Center, will serve as co-principal investigator.

In particular, the researchers will perform specialty analyses from a newly developed virtual reality driving simulator evaluating the driving performance of people with traumatic brain injuries. In addition to the simulator analyses, the UI is providing one of its specially instrumented test vehicles to conduct additional validation, data reduction, and analytical modeling.

Total NICHD funding is $991,769 for the project headed by Drexel University's Maria T. Schultheis, research associate professor in the Department of Psychology and the School of Biomedical Engineering and principal investigator, with Dario Salvucci, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, as co-principal investigator.

"Understanding the validity of simulation as a practitioner tool is a critical feature of the success of using virtual reality technologies," Boyle said. "By analyzing driver performance data on relatively simple simulators alongside real on-road data, we enhance our knowledge of how such tools can be used in clinical settings."

Boyle is a statistical modeling expert on the subject of how people's behavior affects the risk of injuries and mishaps, including why drivers commit errors and crash. McGehee specializes in driver performance and behavior that uses driving simulation, instrumented vehicles and naturalistic methods to inform his research.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Linda Boyle, 319-384-0554,; Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,