New Faculty Member, 2022–23
Heather C. Lum
Assistant professor, Human systems engineering
“The ever-changing nature of technology and how it has impacted nearly every facet of our society is what sparked my interest in engineering,” says Heather C. Lum, a new assistant professor in the human systems engineering program in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University
In her most recent role, Lum was a human factors professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. There, she focused her research on utilizing virtual reality as a way to study team processes through communication and problem-solving.
Lum has plans to amplify that research this fall when she joins The Polytechnic School, one of the seven schools in the Fulton Schools, and says she looks forward to embracing the “world-class and interdisciplinary research projects available at ASU.”
Here, she will further explore human factors psychology with an emphasis on human-technology interactions. More specifically, she hopes to investigate how working dogs can be studied and used as models for human-robot teaming.
In the classroom, Lum, who is also an author of books about science, technology and society, will teach human factors and psychology courses brimming with interactive discussions and engaging activities. She will also implement technology to teach psychology concepts and create a more hands-on experience for students.
One of the activities she has planned relates to sensation and perception.
“I will bring in miracle fruit for students to try that turn off the sour receptors on the tongue for a short period of time,” Lum says. “Students then get a chance to try sour foods like lemons, which taste like lemonade when the sour receptors aren’t active.”
In her spare time, she is a training coordinator and K-9 handler for the county search and rescue dog unit — something she has been doing for almost 20 years.
“It is a hard but rewarding service to the community and I am honored to do it,” Lum says.
When she isn’t in the classroom, the lab or training Cash, her new K-9 student, Lum is spending time with her partially retired K-9 partner, a dog named Google.
Written by Sona Srinarayana