Current and Past Training Record

During the past five years, three students obtained the M.S. degree (two in Environmental Health Sciences at UC Berkeley and one in Bioengineering from Simon Fraser University (Dr. Rempel was a research advisor)). Three students obtained the Ph.D. degree (one in Environmental Health Sciences, one in Mechanical Engineering, and one in Environmental Health Sciences from UCLA). Dr. Rempel was primary research advisor for the UCLA student. One of the M.S. graduates was supported by a NIOSH traineeship; one of the Ph.D. graduates received a NIOSH traineeship.

Two of the M.S. graduates advanced to the Ph.D. training in ergonomics under Environmental Health Sciences at UC Berkeley and one is doing ergonomics consulting.

Of the three doctoral graduates, one is an occupational medicine physician with Kaiser Permanente and is assigned to the New United Motors plant in Fremont, CA to do clinical care and ergonomics prevention (Conlon). A second is interviewing for jobs involving the design of exoskeletons and tool support systems in the workplace (Wehner). The third is doing human factors consulting on the design of medical devices (Story).

Entering the 2009/2010 year, there are two M.S. students (Chen and Shergill) and two Ph.D. students (Harris and Ko), all in the EHS program at the School of Public Health at Berkeley. All of the graduate students are minority students and one is from an underrepresented minority group. It is anticipated that an additional Ph.D. student will join the group from the Bioengineering Department. Four of the students will be supported by a NIOSH traineeship. The two M.S. students graduating in 2010 do not plan to continue with more graduate training. We anticipate accepting 2-3 new M.S. students in 2010.

One of the measures of the success of the trainees is the awards that they have received. One of the M.S. students was awarded a Young Investigator Research Award from the American Society of Gastroenterologists to study the ergonomics of colonoscopy (Shergill). Two of the Ph.D. students (Michael Wehner, Peiyi Ko) each received $20,000 for their research from the Occupational Health and Safety Research Training Pilot Project Grants from UCLA. The titles of their funded research projects were: “Lift-assist system to reduce spine loading for warehouse work” and “Visual symptoms associated with computer monitor use”. One of the Ph.D. students received a research fellowship from Liberty Mutual to develop and evaluate a handle intervention for a palate jack (Harris). Finally, and most importantly, a recent Ph.D. graduate (Molly Story) received one of the highest honors for an ergonomics student, the 2009 International Ergonomics Association (IEA) KU Smith Student Paper Award for her paper titled “Effects of table height and handholds on accessibility of medical examination tables for ambulatory elder patients with mobility disabilities”.

Another very exciting highlight is the number of undergraduates involved in the program. In 2008 there were eight bioengineering students working in the laboratory. All are minority students and two are from underrepresented minority groups. They were paired with graduate students or post-doctoral fellows on research projects. The undergraduate students prepared posters of their occupational health research projects and presented them at the Berkeley Summer Bioengineering Undergraduate Research Program (BSBRP) session. Two of the students are from minority groups. Two summer students who were supported by the Occupational Health Internship Program also worked with the program and developed a You Tube video of their summer project. In 2009 there are 14 undergraduate students working on research projects in the laboratory. All but one are minority students and three are from underrepresented minority groups.

The program is now supporting two post-doctoral fellows who work full-time in the laboratory. Dr. Matt Camilleri, Ph.D., who is supported by gifts from industry, began in the lab in 2007 and provides training to graduate and undergraduate students on their research projects. Dr. David Lee, who is supported by research grants, began in the lab in 2009. His expertise is in kinesiology, posture measurement, and electromyography.

The Ergonomics Program has an international reputation. During the reporting period a biomechanics graduate student from Germany did a 6 month internship at the Program. During the same time, a faculty from Portugal, Denis Coelho, Ph.D., did his sabbatical with the Program.

Several of the research projects involve important R2P activities. Examples include the finding of awkward wrist and shoulder postures and high hand forces among gastroenterologists during the performance of colonoscopies. The program also developed and widely disseminated a device to assist construction workers with overhead drilling into concrete. During this reporting period, the program conducted research with Herman Miller that was used in the development of a new chair design. The program also conducted research with Hewlett Packard on the effect of multiple monitor placement on head and torso postures and eye fatigue. This research was used in the design of computer monitor stands.


Trainee Publications

Molly Story (Ph.D. - UCB; Rempel & Winters; support: non-NIOSH) graduated in 2008. She conducted laboratory and field research to identify barriers to usability of medical equipment by people with disabilities.

Story MF, Luce A, Leung A, Omiatek E, Lemke MR, Rempel DM. Accessibility of Radiology Equipment for Patients with Mobility Disabilities. Human Factors 2008; 50(5):801-810.

Story MF, Luce A, Lemke MR, Rempel DM. Development of a Method for Evaluating Accessibility of Medical Equipment for Patients with Disabilities. Applied Ergonomics 2009 (in review).

Story MF, Lemke M, MacDonald C, Kailes JI, Rempel D, Winters JM. Guidelines for Designing and Selecting Accessible Medical Equipment. RESNA, June 26, 2008, Arlington, VA.

Story MF, Mueller JL. Universal Design Show and Tell, RESNA, June 26, 2008, Arlington, VA.

Story MF, Hodges B, Moore PA, Mueller JL, Peterson W, Winters JM. What is the Difference between Accessibility and Usability? RESNA, June 26, 2008, Arlington, VA.

Story M, Luce A, Rempel D. Accessibility of diabetes management devices for users with vision disabilities. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2009, San Antonio.

Story M. Effects of Table Height and Handholds on Accessibility of Medical Examination Tables for Ambulatory Elder Patients with Mobility Disabilities. International Ergonomics Association (IEA), 2009, Beijing.


Michael Wehner (Ph.D. - UCB; Rempel & Kazerooni; support: NIOSH) graduated in 2009. He developed and evaluated an exoskeleton for reducing lumbar loads during lifting.

Wehner M, Rempel D, Kazerooni H. Lower extremity exoskeleton reduces back forces in lifting. Proceedings of the 2009 Dynamic Systems and Control Conference (DSCC'09)


Craig Conlon, M.D. (Ph.D.-UCLA; Rempel & Krause; support: non-NIOSH) graduated in 2008. He conducted a randomized controlled trial of ergonomic interventions among engineers.

Conlon CF, Krause N, Rempel DM. A randomized controlled trial evaluating an alternative mouse and forearm support on upper body discomfort and musculoskeletal disorders among engineers. Occup Environ Med 2008; 65(5):311-8.

Conlon CF, Krause N, Rempel DM. A randomized controlled trial evaluating an alternative mouse and forearm support on change in median and ulnar nerve motor latency at the wrist. Am J Industrial Med 2009; 52(4):304-310.


Peiyi Ko (M.S. & Ph.D.-UCB; Rempel & Bailey & Hoenig; support: NIOSH) is studying the effects of computer monitor viewing distance on symptoms and objective measures of visual fatigue.

Ko P, Hoenig P, Li D, Bailey I, Rempel D. Effect of Computer Monitor Distance on Visual Symptoms, and Changes in Accommodation and Binocular Vision, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2009, San Antonio.

Ko P, Hoenig P, Li D, Bailey I, Rempel D. Effect of computer monitor distance on visual symptoms and binocular vision changes. International Ergonomics Association (IEA), 2009, Beijing.

Ko P, Applications of Perception Research in Human Factors, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, December 12, 2008.

Ko P, Li D, Hoenig P, Bailey I, Rempel D. Oculomotor changes and visual symptoms associated with computer use. Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), 2009, Fort Lauderdale.


Carisa Harris (Ph.D.-UCB; Rempel & Eisen & Krause; support: NIOSH) is participating in a three year prospective study of 460 blue collar workers to identify risk factors for upper extremity disorders. She is coordinating data collection of the physical examination and nerve conduction data. She also conducted a laboratory study evaluating the effects of cake decorating on forearm muscle load and developed a handle intervention for palate jacks.

Rempel D, Harris C, Goldberg R, Krause N. The San Francisco prospective study of hand/wrist disorders among blue collar workers. International Congress on Occupational Health (ICOH), 2009, Cape Town.


Amandeep Shergill (M.S.-UCB; Rempel & McQuaid; support: non-NIOSH) is studying ergonomic loads of gastroenterologists during colonoscopy. Hand and arm problems are the primary cause of disability among gastroenterologists.

Shergill AK, Asundi KR, Barr A, Shah JN, Ryan JC, McQuaid KR, Rempel D. Pinch force and forearm muscle load during routine colonoscopy: a pilot study. Gastrointestinal Endoscopy 2009; 69(1):142-6.

Shergill AK, McQuaid KR, Rempel D. Ergonomics of Endoscopy. Gastrointestinal Endoscopy 2009; 70(1):145-152.


BingYune Chen (M.S.-UCB; Rempel & Loomer: support: NIOSH) is studying the effect of dental tool design on hand symptoms among dental hygienists his MS paper. He was also involved as an undergraduate in studies of keyboard and chair designs.

Rempel D, Nathan-Roberts D, Chen BY, Odell D. The effects of split keyboard geometry on upper body postures. Ergonomics 2009; 52(1):104-111.

Nathan-Roberts D, Camilleri M, Chen BY, Rempel D. Comparison of Seated Postures between Office Tasks. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2008, New York.


Tim Chueh (M.S. - SFU; Robinovitch, Rempel; support: non-NIOSH) evaluated the effects of an inverted drill press intervention on shoulder and neck posture during overhead drilling.

Yung M, Chueh TY, Arnold AK, Rempel DM, Robinovitch SN. Overhead drilling in construction: an ergonomic approach to intervention design. Association of Canadian Ergonomists 2008, Quebec.

Rempel D, Star D, Gibbons B, Barr A, Janowitz I, Arnold AK, Chueh TY, Yung M, Robinovich S. Intervention devices for overhead drilling: Looking for other applications. NORA Symposium 2008, Denver, CO.


Matt Camilleri, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow - UCB, Rempel; support: non-NIOSH) is studying the effects of computer monitor placement on head and torso posture.

Nathan-Roberts D, Camilleri M, Chen B, Rempel D. Comparison of Seated Postures between Office Tasks. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2008, New York.


David Lee, ScD (Postdoctoral Fellow - UCB, Rempel; support: non-NIOSH) is studying the effect of dental tool design on hand force and muscle activity. Also assisting Dr. Shergill with the study of colonoscopes.


Peer reviewed journal publications from prior students

Villanueva A, Dong H, Rempel D. A biomechanical analysis of applied pinch force during periodontal scaling. J Biomechanics 2007; 40:1910-1915.

Dong H, Loomer P, Barr A, Laroche C, Young E, Rempel D. The effects of tool handle shape on hand muscle load and pinch force in a simulated dental scaling task. Appl Ergonomics 2007; 38:525-531.

Asundi K, Kursa K, Lotz JC, Rempel D. In vitro system for applying cyclic loads to connective tissues under displacement or force control. Ann Biomed Eng 2007; 35(7):1188-95.

Nakama L, King KB, Abrahamsson SO, Rempel DM. Effect of repetition rate on the formation of microtears in tendon in an in vivo cyclical loading model. J Orthop Res 2007; 25(9):1176-84.

Wang PC, Rempel DM, Harrison RJ, Chan J, Ritz BR. Work-organizational and personal factors associated with upper body musculoskeletal disorders among sewing machine operators. Occup Environ Med 2007; 64:806-813.

Asundi KR, King KB, Rempel DM. Evaluation of gene expression through qRT-PCR in cyclically loaded tendons: an in vivo model. Eur J Appl Physiol 2008; 102(3):265-270.

Asundi KR, Rempel DM. Cyclic loading inhibits expression of MMP-3 but not MMP-1 in an in vitro rabbit flexor tendon model. Clin Biomech 2008; 23:117-121.

Asundi KR, Rempel DM. MMP-1, IL-1β and COX-2 mRNA Expression is Modulated by Static Load in Rabbit Flexor Tendon. Ann Biomed Eng 2008; 36(2):237-43.

Rogers MS, Barr AB, Kasemsontitum B, Rempel DM. The development and validation of a 3D model of the hand. Ergonomics 2008; 51(4):511-526.

Wang PC, Ritz RB, Janowitz I, Harrison RJ, Yu F, Chan J, Rempel DM. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Chair Interventions on Back and Hip Pain among Sewing Operators: The Los Angeles Garment Study. J Occup Environ Med 2008; 50(3):255-262.

Rempel DM, Keir PJ, Bach JM. The effect of wrist posture on carpal tunnel pressure while typing. J Orthop Res 2008; 26(9):1269-73.

Wang PC, Rempel DM, Harrison, RJ, Yu F, Ritz RB. Self-reported pain and physical signs for musculoskeletal disorders in the upper body region among Los Angeles Garment Workers. Work (in press).