Dr. Gretchen Macht is a computational, community ergonomist working for a sustainable future.
No one individual can deliver sustainability, but a community, solving problems together to sustain that community can. Community at the SIS Lab is all about the grain size of a problem; a specific layer in a system that does not address global or national concerns nor individual concerns. The community level is a collective, common area where teams/groups execute a mutual goal or need for that population.
The computational aspect associates quantitative or mixed research methods in conjunction with advanced algorithms or cutting edge statistical techniques to provide solutions to these challenging problems. “Remember that all models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful.” by George Box in Empirical Model-Building (1987, p. 74). Our question then becomes how can we establish useful models of human behavior through the study of how people work—ergonomics—to help communities to support and implement a sustainable future.
Dr. Macht’s concept of the SIS Lab was from her first love of chemistry with a play on the word “cys” (Cysteine). Cysteine is a triprotic acid that is used typically as a highly reactive protein catalyst that has relatively low residual reactions. Regarding how that relates to the SIS Lab is threefold:
Cysteine’s are made up of three components (i.e., ionizable functional groups) that are not that dissimilar to the old school 3-pillars of sustainability. But in the case of cys, it is treated as one whole whereas sustainability is not. Traditionally, sustainability is pulled apart and focused on a singular unit at a time. Even the modern version of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 goals are even more compartmentalized at the cost of achievable chunks of holistic, collaborative improvement areas. Additionally, the fundamental of three components is the same as the three parts of a system (i.e, elements, relationships, and function/purpose); this is an Industrial & Systems Engineering lab after all.
Highly Reactive Catalysts. We believe that all our work at the SIS Lab sparks innovation. Our work is meant to inspire other and emerging areas of research. Some perspectives might find our research, at first glance, nonessential (cys’ classification of derivative type) but it is essential to get these important community-level problems addressed for the future.
Low Off-site Reactions. Every solution is limited by the problem statement and boundaries in which it was created. Thus, real solutions are tailors to their environments. Cys is a focused catalyst that does its job effectively and efficiently with a minimal negative impact on its surroundings. Solutions at the SIS Lab are just that, but tailors for community ergonomics.