I was accepted into Alpha Pi Mu this semester, which is the American honor society for Industrial and Systems Engineering. The aim of APM is to:

“confer recognition upon students of Industrial and Systems Engineering who have shown exceptional academic interest and abilities in their field, encourage the advancement and quality of Industrial and Systems Engineering education, unify the student body of the Industrial Engineering department in presenting its needs and ideals to the faculty.”

I was granted the distinguished Associate Ergonomics Professional (AEP) certification by the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE). This designation is a voluntary step towards professional certification and is awarded when the educational requirements are met. Below is the news release by BCPE.

News Release by BCPE: Denean M. Kelson awarded AEP Certification

I presented work towards my second study into exoskeleton use at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) Annual Meeting, which was held in Seattle, WA October 28 – November 1, 2019. The title is Effects of Passive Upper-Extremity Exoskeleton Use on Motor Performance in a Precision Task, which can be found HERE. I also attended ErgoX 2019 on Exoskeletons!

To attend, I was awarded travel grants from the Virginia Tech’s Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Department, the College of Engineering, and the Graduate School.

I have completed my Preliminary Exams and am now a Doctoral Candidate!

I recently completed a summer internship with Entergy Corporation in New Orleans, Louisiana. I worked with the Enterprise Safety department at the corporate office to develop a field ergonomics program, create ergonomics training modules for Entergy employees and design a new website to house program and project information.

I also helped on field ergonomic assessments, assisted on redesigning a field-friendly job hazard analysis, and assisted in the design and analysis of a heat stress mitigation pilot study using heart rate sensor that would vibrate if one’s skin heart rate was higher than a predetermined threshold.

My first study into exoskeleton use was presented at the International Society of Biomechanics and American Society of Biomechanics (ISB/ASB) Annual Meeting, which was held in Calgary, Canada July 31 – August 4, 2019. This was my first international conference!

The title is Effects of Passive Upper-Extremity Exoskeleton Use on Motor Performance, and the abstract can be found HERE on my Research Gate profile.

I also received the Diversity Travel Grant to attend!

My first study has been published in the Applied Ergonomics Journal. I am co-authored with my advisor Divya Srinivasan and Svend Erik Mathiassen.

Kelson, D. M., Mathiassen, S. E., & Srinivasan, D. (2019). Trapezius muscle activity variation during computer work performed by individuals with and without neck-shoulder pain. Applied Ergonomics, 81, 102908. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2019.102908

Research towards my thesis was published in the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Conference Proceedings, which was held October 1st-5th in Philadelphia, PA. The paper can be found HERE.

Kelson, D., Srinivasan, D., & Mathiassen, S. E. (2018). Differences in trapezius muscle activation patterns in office workers with and without chronic neck-shoulder pain, as quantified through exposure variation analysis. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 62(1), 962-966

I’m super excited to have I just received a copy of The Dissertation Warrior: The Ultimate Guide to Being the Kind of Person Who Finishes a Doctoral Dissertation or Thesis. I plan on reading this between work so I can focus this next year on successfully completing my dissertation work. Two-thousand and nineteen is a year of transition and completion!

The Dissertation Warrior by Guy E. White, Ed.D.

I have successfully defended my master’s thesis on 20 April 2018!

Muscle Activation Patterns and Chronic Neck-Shoulder Pain in Computer Work

Below is the general audience abstract:

This study aims to assess the reliability of exposure variation analysis (EVA) to measure variation in trapezius muscle activity in healthy individuals during the performance of computer work, and to determine the extent to which healthy subjects differ from those with chronic pain in trapezius muscle activity patterns during computer work, measured using EVA. Muscle activation was recorded for eight healthy individual and five suffering from chronic neck-shoulder pain. The data were then categorized into amplitude and continuous time categories, and summary measures of resulting distributions were calculated. These measures were used to assess the reliability of participant responses to computer work of healthy individuals, as well as quantify differences between those with and without chronic pain. We found that individuals with pain activated their neck-shoulder muscles for longer continuous durations than healthy individuals, thus showing an inability to relax their muscles when performing work.

To view my thesis, it can be downloaded on the VT Library Database HERE.

Representation is incredibly important, and recently I became interested in diversity in exoskeleton research. While on my search I found a Marvel superhero!


Anyone who knows me knows that I love the Marvel brand. I love the types of heroes they create and the stories that keep us coming back. So knowing this, I was ecstatic to learn about Tamika Bowden, or “Wildstreak”. She is an Olympic-level gymnast who became confined to a wheelchair following an unfortunate “accident” after her father refused to build weapons for the mob. Her father then created an exoskeleton (powered) for her, which in turn gave her heightened abilities. She then became the vigilante Wildstreak! While Tamika has not been used heavily in the Marvel Universe, she is amazing and I was instantly intrigued by her story. You can read more about Wildstreak on the official Marvel website and here.