Richard Pew, PhD


Richard Pew, PhD

In Honor Of… Richard Pew

Honoring scientists who have made important and lasting contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior.

Richard W. Pew, PhD
Principal Scientist
BBN Technologies

Richard (Dick) Pew has been a Principal Scientist at BBN Technologies since 1974. He was Manager of the Cognitive Sciences and Systems Department (originally titled the Experimental Psychology Department) from 1975-1996. He is currently working part-time for BBN. 

He began his education (1951-1956) in electrical engineering at Cornell University. He then spent his first six months of a U. S. Air Force tour in 1956 training for, competing and finishing 4th as an Epee fencer in the 1956 Olympic Games. He completed his Air Force duty in the Psychology Branch of the Aero-Medical Laboratory at Wright Patterson AFB, OH where he confirmed that he wanted to make a career at the interface between engineering and psychology. In 1958, he was hired by J. C. R. Licklider at BBN (then Bolt Beranek and Newman). He stayed in Boston until 1960, working at BBN and acquiring a Master’s Degree in Experimental Psychology at Harvard University. From 1960-1974, he moved to Ann Arbor and completed his PhD under Professor Paul Fitts, and rose through the ranks from Asst. Professor to Professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of Michigan. 

His entire career has focused on the interface between engineering and psychology, sometimes called Engineering Psychology and sometimes Human Factors Engineering. At Michigan the focus of his research was on human motor skills, exploring the application of engineering models, particularly control theory models to understanding human performance. A 1974 paper in Brain Research highlighted the multiple levels of analysis at which motor control must be considered. He enjoyed a productive ten-year collaboration with Prof. Robert Howe of the Aerospace Engineering Department under NASA sponsorship. Prof. Howe taught Pew’s students control engineering and Pew taught Howe’s students how to do experiments with human participants. Many of Pew’s graduate students, including Christopher Wickens and Richard Jagacinski, went on to distinguished interdisciplinary careers. 

At BBN he has enjoyed productive collaborations with many colleagues, including Raymond Nickerson, Shelly Baron, Marilyn Adams, Yvette Tenney, Carl Feehrer and Stephen Deutsch. His interest in computer models of human performance has continued and he has also pursued his interest in applying human performance research in the areas of aviation, power plant decision making and human-computer interaction. For the last twelve years, with Adams and Tenney, he has contributed to the definition and measurement of situation awareness.

Pew has been President of the Human Factors Society (Now the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society), and Division 21 of APA. He was the first chairman of the National Research Council Committee on Human Factors, 1980. For 39 years he chaired the University of Michigan Summer Conference on Human Factors Engineering.

He has received the Paul M. Fitts Award of the Human Factors Society for outstanding contributions to Human Factors Education, 1980, the Franklin V. Taylor Award of Division 21 of the APA for outstanding contributions to Engineering Psychology, 1981 and the Arnold M. Small President’s Distinguished Service Award of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 1999. In 2001 The University of Michigan created a Collegiate Chair honoring him that is held by Professor Judith Olson. She is the Richard W. Pew Professor of Human-Computer Interaction. In 2002 Dick was selected to be a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists. 



Individuals Honoring Richard Pew:

Anonymous (3)
Barry Beith, HumanCentric Technologies
Mark Brauer, Amencie Consultants
Nancy Cooke, Arizona State University
Donald Farr, Human Engineering Consultant
Arthur (Dan) Fisk, Georgia Institute of Technology
Paul Green, University of Michigan
Douglas Griffith, General Dynamics
Jonathan Grudin, Microsoft Corporation
Peter Hancock, University of Central Florida
Douglas Harris, Anacapa Sciences, Inc.
Christine Hartel, The National Academies
Elaine M. Hull, Florida State University
John Kelley, IBM Corporation
Alexander C. Kirlik, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Yili Liu, University of Michigan
Anne Mavor, The National Academies
Raymond Nickerson, Tufts University
Donald A. Norman, Nielsen Norman Group
Robert Radwin, University of Wisconsin-Madison
* Wendy Rogers, Georgia Institute of Technology
Thomas Sheridan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Lynn Strother, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Elizabeth R. Tenney, University of Virginia
Yvette J. Tenney, BBN Technologies

 * The FABBS Foundation would like to thank Dr. Wendy Rogers for nominating Dr. Pew for this honor and for leading the effort to spread the word about his nomination.



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