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Research Workshop

Human Performance Simulation: A Meeting of Minds

Emerging research. Breakthrough innovations. This workshop will showcase the role of simulation in scientific discovery, performance enhancement and translational research of global significance.

  • Discover state-of-art uses for simulation, the opportunities and the risks.
  • Experience different forms of simulation from virtual worlds, driving to flying.
  • Connect with experts in psychology, computer science, physiotherapy, public health, medicine, sport and aviation.

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One of the most significant challenges facing contemporary research in the Human Sciences and in Australian science more broadly, is the dichotomy between researchers who function at the level of basic science and those who investigate phenomena in applied settings. On the one hand, this metaphorical gap limits the extent to which basic research can be translated into applied environments. On the other, applied researchers are working in contexts where it becomes difficult to generalise the outcomes of their endeavours. 

At its heart, the issue for both basic and applied researchers is the notion of 'experimental control'.  By optimising experimental control, the relationship between variables becomes evident. For example, basic researchers can systematically vary the environment to explore the complexities that emerge once an initiative is deployed in more complex settings. Amongst applied researchers, it becomes possible to maintain a degree of consistency across trials, so that generalizable outcomes are possible. This 'meeting of minds' is at the heart of this workshop.

Program and speakers

This free, full-day workshop will bring together top thinkers and research leaders from Australia, America, England, France and New Zealand. Tours of the world's first integrated Simulation Hub will be organised throughout the day.

View program and speakers

Time Program


Coffee and Registration


Welcome to Country and the University


Keynote Presentation
Professor Barbara Tversky
Department of Psychology, Stanford University
Using Simulation to Explore Complex Human Cognition


Associate Professor Andrew Baillie
Department of Psychology, Macquarie University
Simulating Cues to Investigate Alcohol Consumption


Dr Kathryn Mills
Department of Physiotherapy, Macquarie University
Using Simulation as a Physiological Diagnostic Tool


Professor Deak Helton
Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury
Simulating Disasters


Morning Tea and Tours of the Simulation Hub

Parallel Session 1 Parallel Session 2


Dr Jaime Auton
Department of Psychology, Macquarie University
Simulating natural communication in the control room environments

Dr Thomas Loveday
NSW Clinical Excellence Commission 
Simulation and Virtual Reality in Clinical Settings


Sue Brouwers
Department of Psychology, Macquarie University
Simulating train control to investigate the vigilance decrement

James Wood
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University
How much realism is enough in simulated learning environments


Peter Renshaw
Department of Psychology, Macquarie University
Transitioning from simulation to the 'real-world' in learning to fly drones

Dr Robyn Clay-Williams
Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University
Simulating Complexity in the Emergency Ward


Associate Professor Michael Hitchens
Department of Computer Science, Macquarie University
Simulation in games

Joanne White
Department of Psychology, Macquarie University
Simulating the World in Driving


Lunch and Tours of the Simulation Hub


Keynote Presentation
Professor Bill Thompson
Department of Psychology, Macquarie University
Simulation in Music and Movement


Professor Frederic Merienne
Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Arts et Métiers
Motion Sickness in Virtual Reality


Associate Professor Greg Downey
Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University
Simulation Social Structures and Making Implicit, Explicit


Associate Professor Manolya Kavakli-Thorne
Department of Computer Science, Macquarie University
Training Simulations, Human Expertise and Virtual Reality


Dr Julia Irwin
Department of Psychology, Macquarie University
Simulating the Unexpected in Driving


Professor Ann Williamson
Department of Aviation, University of New South Wales
Using Simulation to Develop Better Approaches to Managing Driver Fatigue


Professor Johanna Westbrook
Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University
Interruptions and multitasking in the Simulated Environment


Afternoon Tea and Tours of the Simulation Hub


Professor Kay Crossley
Department of Physiotherapy, La Trobe University
Simulation in the Management of Knee Pain


Dr Marino Festa
Children's Hospital at Westmead
Simulating Signature Cues to Promote Behaviour


Professor Kirsty Forrest
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University
The Role of simulation in medical training: The situation at present, and the future


Derek Panchuk
Australian Institute of Sport
Simulation in Sport: A Case for Representative Design


Professor Mark Wiggins, Department of Psychology
Macquarie University
Integrating Human Performance Simulation


Official Opening of the Simulation Hub

Guest Speaker – Matt Hall (Red Bull Air Race)

Closing message by Professor Bruce Dowton
Vice Chancellor of Macquarie University

Drinks and Canapes

Keynote speaker

Professor Barbara Tversky
Department of Psychology, Stanford University Barbara Tversky

Using Simulated Environments to Explore and Expand Human Cognition

Abstract: Interactions in the wild whether within minds or between them are an untethered multi-modal mix of words, gesture, and the world. The possibilities of words, gestures, and aspects of the world are limitless, but attention is not; from that multiplicity of possibilities, people filter, select, alter, and ascribe meaning according to the task at hand. New technologies are expanding interactions beyond tethering screens, keyboards, and mice. Insights from natural interactions can aid in the design of simulated worlds and interactions in simulated worlds can provide insights into natural interactions. Together, they can expand the mind and its interactions with itself and with other minds in fundamental ways.

Biography: Professor Barbara Tversky has made groundbreaking contributions to at least four areas in cognitive psychology.

  • In the field of memory, some of her early work helped establish the roles of pictorial and verbal codes in long-term memory.
  • In categorization, her research showed how the parts of a thing relate to its function and thus shape categories.
  • In spatial cognition, one of her many contributions has been to characterize the spatial framework in which people locate objects near their bodies.
  • In event perception, she has shown how perceivers segment ongoing activity into meaningful events and how this relates to learning and task performance.

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One characteristic that unifies these bodies of work is the high degree of creativity evident in each. Another is that, in each area, Tversky has opened up new topics of inquiry into which other researchers have enthusiastically followed. A characteristic of Tversky's research is a persistent interest in the relations between people's cognitive systems and the technologies they use to augment and reconstitute those cognitive systems—from cave paintings to scientific diagrams to cartoons to computerized visualization. As a result of making these connections, her work is cited widely by computer scientists, educators, architects, and geographers as well as by her fellow psychologists.


Entry is free and open to the public. Please register by 16 July 2015.

Monday, 20 July 2015

8am - 6pm
Y3A Lecture Theatre
Hadenfeld Avenue
Macquarie University

View map l Getting to Macquarie University