Ph.D. candidate, Industrial Engineering, University of Iowa, expected graduation 2010
M.S., Industrial Engineering, University of Iowa, 2005
B.A., Psychology, University of Calgary, 2003

Research Interests

Interface design and driver support, automation failures, attitudes towards automation, driver distraction.

In-Car Technology to Alert Attention-Impaired Drivers (NIH):

The goal of this project is to identify optimal signal parameters for a collision warning system designed to aid older drivers with age-related useful field of view (UFOV) impairments. The project examines alerting effectiveness with a variety of testing platforms, including basic psychological tests, a simulator and an instrumented vehicle.

The Influence of Non-Useful Alarms on the Effectiveness of Imminent Crash Warnings (NHTSA):

The goal of this project was to investigate the influence of different alarm failures on driver behavior and driver attitudes. Monica N. Lees examined the influence of distraction and the influence of two alarm failures (unnecessary alarms and false alarms) in terms of driver compliance and trust in a forward collision warning system. Some of her activities included a comprehensive literature review on automation, collision avoidance, and failures; experimental design and implementation using a simulator, data manipulation and visualization, and experimental testing.

Cognitive Ergonomics Research Laboratory (CERL)

Monica was a research assistant at the Cognitive Ergonomics Reserach Laboratory from 2003 to 2004. Monica worked on a number of projects, where she completed tasks such as defining and implementing experiments, analyzing results, conducting literature reviews, and conducting experimental sessions with participants. The following represent some of the projects she worked on:

1. The influence of reduced visibility on driver responses to braking events

2. The influence of feedback in the modification of vehicle following behavior and self-confidence in young drivers (Janet Creaser's Thesis)

3. Human Machine Interface And the Safety of Traffic in Europe (HASTE): This multi-institutional study investigated the relationship between driver behavior and in-vehicle information systems. The purpose of the project was to aid the development of standard methods and guidelines for assessing the effects of in-vehicle information systems.

4. California Partners for Advanced Transit and Highways (California PATH)


Cosman, J.D., Lees, M. N., Lee, J.D., Vecera,S.P, and Rizzo, M. (Submitted). Age-related useful field of view impairments are associated with an inefficient ability to shift attention in space.
Dastrup, E., Lees, M. N., Bechara, A., Dawson, J.D., and Rizzo, M. (In Preperation). Risky car following in abstinent users of MDMA. Accident Analysis and Prevention.
Lees, M. N. and Lee, J. D. (2008) 'Enhancing safety by augmenting information acquisition in the driving environment ', in Human Factors of Visual and Cognitive Performance in Driving, Taylor and Francis.
Lees, M. N. & Lee, J.D. (2007). The influence of distraction and driving context on driver response to imperfect collision warning systems. Ergonomics, 50 (8), p. 1264-1286


Lees, M. N., Cosman, J.D., Lee, J. D., Vecera, S., Jang, M, Dawson, J.D., and Rizzo, M.. Cross-modal alerts for orienting of attention in attention impaired drivers. In proceedings of the 17th World Congress on Ergonomics, Beijing, China, August 10-14 2009.
Lees, M. N., Sparks, J. D., Lee, J. D. and Rizzo, M. (2007) 'Change blindness, attention, and driving performance', in Proceedings of the International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driving Assessment, Training, and Vehicle Design, Iowa City, IA: The University of Iowa, Public Policy Center.
Seppelt, B.D., Lees, M.N., Lee, J.D., & Rizzo, M. (2007). Promoting repeatable research and collaboration - The benefits of a driving simulation wiki. Driving Simulation North America Conference 2007.
Lees, M.N., Lee, J.D., & Brown, M.D (2006). Collision Warnings and Driver Brake Response to Critical and Non-Critical Events. In Proceedings of the 16 th World Congress on Ergonomics, Maastricht, Netherlands, July 10-14, 2006.
Seppelt, B.D., Lees, M.N., & Lee, J.D. (2005). Driver distraction and reliance: Adaptive cruise control in the context of sensor reliability and algorithm limits. Honda outstanding student paper award. In Proceedings of the Third International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driver Assessment, Training, and Vehicle Design, 255-261.
Creaser, J.I., Lees, M.N., White, C. (2004). The effect of insight and error-based feedback on drivers' following behavior and confidence. In Proceedings of the 48th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, New Orleans, LA, September 20-24, 2005.


Caird, J.K., Lees, M. and Edwards, C. (2004). The naturalistic driver model: A review of distraction, impairment and emergency factors. Richmond, CA: California PATH/U. of California at Berkeley.

Honors and Awards

International Ergonomics Association KU Smith Student Paper Award August 2009
Dean's Graduate Fellowship Award , University of Iowa August 2006
James F. Jakobsen Student Paper Award May 2006
Honda Outstanding Student Paper Award June 2005
Graduate Student Senate Travel Fund Award September 2004

Memberships and Activities

President, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Student Chapter, University of Iowa December 2005 - August 2006
Treasurer, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Student Chapter, University of Iowa August 2005 - December 2005

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