Photo of Kathleen Van Benthem

Kathleen Van Benthem

Senior Research Scientist & Adjunct Research Professor

Degrees:Ph.D. Cognitive Science (Carleton), Masters of Health Studies (Athabasca), Bachelor of Science (Honours), in Occupational Therapy (Queen's)

Dr. Kathleen Van Benthem is a Senior Research Scientist at the ACE Lab and an Adjunct Research Professor at the Department of Cognitive Science. Her research involves the study of cognitive health and risk for older pilots and drivers. She uses full-scale and virtual reality simulators to collect operator performance data. She has developed an online method for conducting research on pilot cognitive health. Her research on predicting driver and pilot risk includes developing statistical models and artificial intelligence approaches that include a variety of individual and system factors.  A key goal of her work is to develop a virtual reality cognitive health screening tool for pilots using domain-specific cognitive measures such as pilot situation awareness and prospective memory. In addition to research on cognitive health, Dr. Van Benthem has developed a suite of research methods that capture biometric measures, such as electroencephalography (EEG) and heart rate variability, to investigate how mental workload can be evaluated on a moment-by-moment basis using brain-computer interfaces.  The findings from the biometric studies will be used to inform strategies to reduce operator risk in non-optimal workload situations.  Dr. Van Benthem collaborates with experts in artificial intelligence (autonomous vehicle research) and brain-computer interfaces (National Research Council of Canada) for the purpose of optimizing human performance in complex cognitive behaviours. Dr. Van Benthem’s background includes work in older driver safety from a researcher, policy and standards, and occupational therapy viewpoint.  She completed a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from Carleton University and a Masters of Health Studies degree from Athabasca University and a degree in Occupational Therapy from Queen’s University (Kingston, ON).  She also enjoys teaching at the Department of Cognitive Science at Carleton University.