Applied Psychology Research Institute (APRI)

The Applied Psychology Research Institute is dedicated to improving productivity, accuracy, and safety across humans, technologies, systems, and communities. Areas of emphasis include: 

  • Transportation
  • Patient Safety
  • Training and Performance
  • User Experience (UX)
  • Aerospace/Military
  • Community Research, Intervention, and Action


The Human-Automation and Interaction Lab (HAIL), led by Dr. Jibo He, is interested in eye movements and attention, and the application of psychological theories and paradigms to real-world tasks (e.g., human computer interaction and driving). Current research projects include 1) detection of driver fatigue and distraction using vehicle dynamics, eye tracking, and EEG, 2) performance changes and mechanisms of distracted driving and automation-assisted driving.

The Visual and Perception Lab, led by Dr. Rui Ni, investigates the visual perception of depth and shape in stereopsis, distance perception of 3-D objects in the real world, driving performance and visual information processing, and age-related dierences in perception and cognition. The VPC lab is particularly interested in improving older individuals’ visual performance through training (e.g., perceptual learning). 

The Applied Perception and Performance Lab (APPL), led by Dr. Alex Chaparro, investigates a number of areas including basic and applied research concerning visual perception, reading, aging, driving, and aviation. Much of the research has been funded by grants from industry and government agencies including the U.S. Air Force, FAA, Microsoft Corporation, and General Atomics. APPL’s current projects include: 1) An investigation of the effects of driver distraction including text messaging on hazard detection and vehicle lane control; 2) How cellular phone design affects driver workload; 3) The effects of simulated cataracts on speechreading

Patient Safety

Dr. Liz Lazzara specializes in improving the quality of patient care within the healthcare domain by examining and advancing the science and practice of clinical care and patient safety issues pertaining to human performance, teamwork, team training, and simulation-based training, and performance measurement. Dr. Lazzara has collaborated with multiple hospitals and universities throughout the country, such as Orlando Health, Florida Hospital, Jackson Memorial Hospital, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, University of Miami, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Evan Palmer and Dr. Joe Keebler collaborate with Dr. Lazzara on research regarding patient handoffs protocol. 

Training and Performance

The Training  and Applied Cognitive Engineering (TRACE) lab, led by Dr. Joe Keebler, is focused on utilizing cutting edge technology for applied training and assessment across military, medical, and civilian domains. One focus of this lab is the use of augmented reality training for learning anatomical structures; augmented reality training for learning to dierentiate between highly similar combat vehicles; and augmented reality training for learning musical instruments according to the new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) model of education. TRACE lab investigates topics related to team work in medical settings, specifically through partnering with Via Christi’s pathology department and Children’s Mercy Hospital. Finally, investigations will also be focused on future Human-Robot Teams, and studies will utilize COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) video game systems to simulate and measure HRI teams.

The Laboratory of Applied Visual Attention, led by Dr. Evan Palmer, studies visual perception and attention with a focus on how modern technologies are changing the way people visually process information. Current research topics include the effects of video games on visual attention, how multitasking behaviors and preferences influence attentional filtering, strengthening visual processing using points and sound effects as feedback, graphical depiction of complex information in "glyph" displays for unmanned aerial vehicles, and how people visually search for information on web pages

User Experience (UX)

The Software Usability Research Lab (SURL), led by Dr. Barbara Chaparro, is an applied research laboratory that conducts research related to human-computer interaction (HCI). In addition to research, the lab provides usability evaluation services and interface design services to the software development community and trains students on HCI with real-world projects. SURL has worked on a contract basis to address usability and HCI issues for many Fortune 500/1000 companies  including Microsoft, Dell, Motorola, Coca-Cola, Textron, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Coleman, and Benchmark Brands. The current focus is website design and usability, mobile device usability and methods of text input, eye tracking of websites and mobile applications, and voice recognition on mobile devices.


The Aviation Psychology and Human Factors Lab, led by Dr. Alex Chaparro, provides practical psychology to the needs of aviation and defense industries, government authorities like the FAA and the NTSB, the U.S. military, and a great variety of other institutions. NIAR’s applied and theoretical research projects are designed to meet the immediate needs of their clients with regard to Human Information Processing, Human Computer Interaction, Automation, and Human Ergonomics. Current projects involve General Atomics and the design of a ground control station for aircraft drones. 

Community Research, Intervention, and Action

The Behavioral Community Research and Action Team, led by Dr. Rhonda Lewis, is focused on conducting community-based research that promotes the health of adolescents and reducing health disparities among Racial and Ethnic groups. The Behavioral Community Research and Action Team currently is focused examining the health behaviors of college students, educational aspirations and expectations of youth in foster care and role racial identity plays on the health behaviors of emerging adults. The research team also has a partnership with Gordon Parks Academy, Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas, Grant Chapel AME Church, Center for Health and Wellness and the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas to implement a program to encourage physical activity, increase academic performance, and promote careers among elementary and middle school students.


APRI is located in Rm 102 McKinley Hall. For more information contact Dr. Alex Chaparro at Alex.Chaparro@wichita.edu or 316-978-3170.