TTU faculty member recognized by the National Academies’ Gulf Research Program

Assistant professor Changwon Son is one of six fellows named by the Gulf Research Program of...
Assistant professor Changwon Son is one of six fellows named by the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.(Courtesy)
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 3:56 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Texas Tech University’s Changwon Son, an assistant professor of Industrial, Manufacturing, And Systems Engineering (IMSE) in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, was one of six scientists selected for the Offshore Energy Safety track of the Early-Career Research Fellowship, the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced last Thursday, January 20.

The National Academies Gulf Research Program is an independent, science-based program founded in 2013 as part of legal settlements with the companies involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

“I am very excited that Dr. Son has received this fellowship,” said Bryan Norman, chair of IMSE. “The IMSE department at Texas Tech has a long history of research excellence in the area of ergonomics and human factors in safety research in particular.

“I believe Dr. Son will continue to carry that safety research tradition into the future. Dr. Son’s work in safety and resilient system design in offshore operations is very timely and important,” he added.

During the two-year program, which started Jan. 1, 2022, the fellows will contribute to the advancement of safer, more reliable, and more efficient offshore energy operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Offshore operations are an essential part of oil and gas production,” Son said. “However, risks of the offshore systems and activities must be managed appropriately. The Deepwater Horizon disaster that occurred in 2010 has clearly demonstrated the detrimental consequences of offshore incidents. To prevent future, similar incidents and protect workers, communities, and the environment from offshore disasters, my research is particularly focused on human workers’ cognition and behavior.

“Oftentimes, human workers are blamed for their errors, mistakes, and violations of procedures. However, there must be systemic causes that lead to such outcomes at the worker level. My goal is to generate new knowledge regarding the systemic causes of incidents and the design of tools and work processes that fit human capabilities and limitations to address those problems,” Son said.

Son’s work as an Early-Career Research Fellow will include designing standard operating procedures (SOPs) based on cognitive system theory, improving offshore teamwork by analyzing communication and interactions between crew members, and addressing the mental health challenges of offshore workers.

Son joined the IMSE department at Texas Tech in the fall of 2021 and serves as the director of the Safety, Human Factors, and Resilience Engineering (SHARE) Lab. He spent seven years working as a safety engineer and previously was selected as a Young Talent of the Resilience Engineering Association and an Emerging Leader of the Human Factors Ergonomics Society.

His research topics include human and team adaptive decision-making and performance in safety-critical contexts, such as oil and gas, disaster response, and health care practices.

“I hope the research I will conduct as an Early-Career Research Fellow will help Texas Tech University to remain in the forefront of safety research and education,” Son said.

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