Catherine Burns

Professor and Director for the Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology

Contact InformationCatherine Burns

Office: EC4 - 2121
Phone: (519) 888-4567 ext. 33903
Fax: (519) 746-4791
Lab phone: +1 (519) 888-4904
Lab: The Advanced Interface Design Lab, EC4


  • BASc (University of Waterloo)
  • MASc (University of Toronto)
  • PhD (University of Toronto)

Research Interests:

Dr. Burns conducts research in Ecological Interface Design, Cognitive Work Analysis, graphical interface design and visualization. Areas of application include healthcare and health informatics, power plant and utility management, oil and gas plant management, and military applications.

Ecological Interface Design:

Ecological interface design (EID) draws design principles from both ecological psychology and engineering. The goal of EID is to present the operator with all the information needed to correctly understand how to achieve plant goals in an interface that is as transparent as possible to the operator. Experimentally, EID is showing great promise as an approach to designing interfaces for such systems as petrochemical plants, power plants and in aviation. The goal of this research is to continue to explore this framework and expand its successful implementation to industrial situations.

Current Projects

Mobile decision support tools for cardiac nurses. Partnership with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Funded by Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.
Supporting situation awareness in power plant operators. Partnership with the University of Toronto Cognitive Engineering Laboratory and the Institute for Energy Technology OECD Halden Reactor Project, Halden Norway. Funding (tentative) NSERC.
Diabetes management tool. Funding by Bell University Labs and software support from Research in Motion (RIM).

Supporting human-human and human-agent collaboration in uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) environments. Partnership with DRDC, Toronto, NRC Flight Research Lab, Greenley and Associates, and CMC Electronics.

Exploring various emergent features common to EID designs. Partnership with ProSum Solutions and Solutions Outside the Box. Funded by NSERC.

University of Waterloo

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