Catherine Burns

Executive Director, Health Initiatives and Sponsored Research

Contact InformationCatherine Burns

Phone: 519-888-4567 x33903,519-888-4567 x30534
Location: EC4 2121,EC5 3057


Biography Summary

Catherine M. Burns is Professor in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo, Canada where she directs her research lab, the Advanced Interface Design Lab and holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Human Factors and Healthcare Systems. Catherine is well known for her work in Cognitive Work Analysis, Ecological Interface Design and the development of decision support systems. In this area she has contributed over 250 publications and is the co-author of seven books. She is a Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Catherine’s recent research projects have been exploring how naval crews work with data fusion systems, how people might work with artificial intelligence systems, interactions with automated vehicles, and support for improved medical decision making.

Research Interests

  • Human factors engineering
  • Systems engineering
  • Safety
  • Ergonomics
  • Design Process
  • Cognitive engineering
  • Human error
  • Decision making
  • Interface Design and Integration
  • Usability Testing and Interactive Technology
  • Ecological Interface Design
  • Cognitive Work Analysis
  • Graphical interface design and visualization


  • 1998, Doctorate, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto
  • 1994, Master's, Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto
  • 1992, Bachelor's, Systems Design Engineering, University of Waterloo


  • BME 162 - Human Factors in Biomedical
    • Taught in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
  • SYDE 642 - Cognitive Engineering Methods
    • Taught in 2016, 2018
  • SYDE 542 - Interface Design
    • Taught in 2017
  • SYDE 740 - Topics in Human Systems
    • Taught in 2017
* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • Jatobá, Alessandro and Bellas, Hugo Cesar and Bonfatti, Renato and Burns, Catherine M and Vidal, Mario Cesar R and de Carvalho, Paulo Victor R, Designing for patient risk assessment in primary health care: a case study for ergonomic work analysis, Cognition, Technology & Work, 18(1), 2016, 215 - 231
  • Burns, Catherine M and Naikar, Neelam, Prioritization A Double-Edged Sword?, Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, 10(1), 2016, 105 - 108
  • Burns, Catherine M and Bisantz, Ann M, Advances in the Application of Cognitive Work Analysis, Applications of Cognitive Work Analysis, 2016
  • Kant, Vivek and Burns, Catherine M, Engaging nanotechnology: ethnography of lab-on-a-chip technology in small-scale fluidics research, Cognition, Technology & Work, 18(1), 2016, 33 - 52
  • Mercer, Kathryn and Li, Melissa and Giangregorio, Lora and Burns, Catherine and Grindrod, Kelly, Behavior change techniques present in wearable activity trackers: a critical analysis, JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 4(2), 2016

Graduate Studies