Staff

Research Institute Staff
 
Our senior staff members have exceptional credentials across a wide-range of disciplines. Each scientist has published research in prominent scientific publications. To learn more about our staff, click on the names below.
Teodora (Dora) Ruta Abbatine, M.B.A.
Dora Abbatine joined the Liberty Mutual Research Institute in 2014, as the director of the newly formed Knowledge Translation Unit. In this role, she serves as a key liaison between the Research Institute and Liberty Mutual Insurance strategic business units, oversees collaborative initiatives with business partners, including four technical advisory groups, and spearheads the development of engagement opportunities and strategies. In addition, Ms. Abbatine manages the Institute’s communications initiatives, which include facilitating the translation of scientific findings for both internal and external audiences, and, particularly the distillation of science into business knowledge that can help improve service applications.
 
An employee of Liberty Mutual Insurance since 1991, Ms. Abbatine has held a variety of roles across multiple strategic business units, departments, and functions. Most recently she served as Distribution Compensation director in Commercial Insurance, and prior to that, she was a director for Commercial Lines Information Technology and Reporting. Ms. Abbatine has a solid track record of collaborating closely with field leadership and front-line team members to gather customer insight and effectively translate those needs into value added tools and services.
 
An honors graduate, Ms. Abbatine received a Masters of Business Administration, with a concentration in finance, from Boston University, and graduated magna cum laude from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.
Elyssa Besen, Ph.D.
Dr. Besen joined the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in 2013. A research scientist with the Center for Disability Research, she focuses her investigations on better understanding the patterns and predictors of disability occurrence over time, and ways to sustain successful return-to-work after disability or injury. Her research interests also include the aging workforce and its impact on worker disability.
 
In 2013, Dr. Besen received her Ph.D. in applied developmental psychology from Boston College, and in 2005, she earned a B.A. in psychology with honors from Brandeis University. Prior to joining the Institute, Dr. Besen worked as a research assistant for the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, where she published articles related to the implications of the aging workforce for employers.
Wen-Ruey Chang, Ph.D.
Since joining Liberty Mutual in 1995, Dr. Chang has investigated shoe and floor interfaces with the goal of finding ways to reduce workplace slips and falls. His projects involve identifying preferred, higher-friction microscopic geometric features of floors, measurement of slipperiness, developing protocol to measure friction and a statistical model to estimate the probability of slip incidents, and ladder safety. The findings from these studies help develop interventions and guidelines to reduce slip and fall incidents.
 
Dr. Chang’s experience includes research on footwear and floor contact, surface roughness measurement, surface friction and lubrication, ball bearing dynamics, wear, viscoelasticity, and whole body vibration. His publications have appeared in major safety and ergonomics journals, including Ergonomics, Applied Ergonomics, Safety Science, the International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Epidemiology, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, and the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health. In recognition of his work in the area of slips and falls research, he received the 2003 Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors’ William F. Floyd Award. He earned the distinction of Fellow with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 2005 and the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (UK) in 2006. He was a co-recipient of the 2006 National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Partnering Award for Worker Health and Safety from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
 
Dr. Chang is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, the Ergonomics Society, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and the American Society of Testing and Materials and serves as chair of the International Ergonomics Association Technical Committee on Slips, Trips, and Falls. He is an editor of Ergonomics and on the editorial board of Safety Science and the Journal of Testing and Evaluation. Dr. Chang earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering from the National Chung-Hsing University in Taiwan, and his M.S., and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.
Theodore K. Courtney, M.S., CSP
​Mr. Courtney is the Director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology (CIE). In this role, he directs the CIE’s mandate to conduct original epidemiological research into risk factors for injury and to study the burden of workplace injury. He and his colleagues investigate injury characteristics, distributions and determinants; conduct original descriptive and analytic epidemiologic studies in working populations; and identify and develop new design and analysis methodologies. Additionally, they seek to better understand contextual influences on safety using demographic methods to study the changing nature of work and the workforce. As director his responsibilities include program direction, research development, collaboration, and guiding the internal and external communication of research findings. He also oversees the Institute’s extramural research programs and collaborations.
 
Since joining Liberty Mutual as a research scientist in 1993, Mr. Courtney has advanced through several roles at the Research Institute. Most recently, he served as the Institute’s Director of Research Operations from 2006 to 2008. From 2003 to 2006, he directed the Quantitative Analysis Unit, a forerunner of the CIE, and from 1997 to 2002, served as the Associate Director for Extramural Research. Mr. Courtney is also appointed as an instructor in injury, ergonomics, and occupational safety at the Harvard University School of Public Health where he has taught since 1995.
 
Mr. Courtney has research interests in epidemiology of injury, slips, trips, and falls, surveillance, and ergonomics. He has published on subjects including epidemiologic methods, injury morbidity/mortality studies of U.S. and international worker populations, fatigue, and slips and falls. His work has appeared in Accident Analysis and Prevention, Ergonomics, the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, among others. He received the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Occupational Research Agenda Partnering Award for Worker Health and Safety for his work with colleagues on a multi-institutional, multi-national research project on slips and falls among health care workers in 2006. The Ergonomics Society presented him with the William F. Floyd Award in 2003 for his work with colleagues in advancing slips and falls research methods.
 
Mr. Courtney holds a B.S. in applied psychology (human factors) from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, and an M.S. in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. A Board Certified Safety Professional in comprehensive practice and ergonomics, he also serves an Associate Editor of Accident Analysis and Prevention and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. He is a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers, the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, the System Safety Society, and the American Public Health Association.
Marvin Dainoff, Ph.D., CPE
​Liberty Mutual Research Institute Director of the Center for Behavioral Sciences Marvin Dainoff, Ph.D. In 2008, the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety appointed Dr. Dainoff as the director of the Center for Behavioral Sciences. In this position, he directs research focused on the behavioral, cognitive, and organizational factors underlying workplace injuries and highway collisions. Dr. Dainoff and his team of research scientists examine topics in risk communication, hazard perception, safety climate, sociotechnical systems analysis, work systems for knowledge workers, and driver performance.
 
A Professor Emeritus at Miami University (Ohio), and founding director of the Center for Ergonomic Research, Dr. Dainoff served as a professor of psychology for 37 years. His teaching and research interests included human factors/ergonomics, measurement, research methods, and cognitive systems engineering. He was a visiting researcher at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health where he received a Certificate of Appreciation for his service. His interests have included experimental investigations of behavioral aspects of work systems associated with knowledge workers and communication/translation of scientific information to practitioners and the general public.
 
Dr. Dainoff received both his B.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Rochester. He is a past president of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and is director-emeritus on the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics from which he received the Distinguished Professional Service Award. He is a Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal on Human Computer Interaction, and Oxford University Press Handbook for Cognitive Engineering, He has been active in the area of technical standards, serving as vice chair of the ANSI/HFES 100 Committee (U.S. National Standard on Human Factors Engineering of Computer Workstations), secretary of HFES 300 Committee (Guidelines for Using Anthropometric Data in Product Design), and secretary, U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO Technical Committee 159, Subcommittee 3 - Anthropometry and Biomechanics. He was Program Chair of Ergonomics and Health Aspects of Work with Computers section of Human Computer Interaction International Conference 2007.
Richard T. Fleck, M.B.A.
Research Operations Director Richard Fleck supports the Institute’s strategic planning and oversees the administrative, technical, and communications functions. In this role, he manages the day-to-day activities of a technically diverse operations staff. As a key member of the leadership team, he works closely with the Institute’s senior staff to manage the Institute’s overall performance and enhance its effectiveness.
 
Mr. Fleck brings 20 years of research administration and accounting experience to the Institute staff. Most recently, he served as the director of Research Administration at Children’s Hospital (Boston, MA). In this role, he developed and implemented long-range strategic plans to integrate the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Finance; led the development of a cross-functional, online grant management system; acted as advisor to the vice president of Research Administration on trends and policies affecting sponsored research; and served as a member of a variety of high-level hospital committees. Prior to this, he held positions of increasing responsibility with Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and Tufts University Medical School.
 
Mr. Fleck graduated summa cum laude from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA, with a Master’s in Business Administration and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, PA. He is a member of the National Council of University Research Administrators and the Society of Research Administrators.
Lawrence J. Hettinger, Ph.D.
​Dr. Hettinger joined the Liberty Mutual Research Institute staff in 2011. As a principal research scientist with the Center for Behavioral Sciences, his work involves analysis of human and sociotechnical systems as they relate to the design of safe work environments. His investigations examine issues such as human-machine and human-computer interface design, factors influencing effective training, and organizational decision-making and communication. Dr. Hettinger’s expertise includes human experimental psychology; human factors engineering; and design, test, and analysis of complex systems.
 
Dr. Hettinger received his Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in psychology from The Ohio State University, where he focused his studies on visual perception and human performance. He earned his B.A. in psychology from the University of New Hampshire. Currently, he serves as chair of the Human Factors and Ergonomic Society’s Test and Evaluation Technical Group.  He is also a member of the American Psychological Society and Cognitive Science Society. Dr. Hettinger has published more than 75 scientific papers, one book, and several book chapters, and he has presented his work extensively.
William J. Horrey, Ph.D.
​Dr. Horrey joined the Research Institute in 2005.  He is a principal research scientist in the area of transportation safety.  His investigations focus on driver behavior and distractions from in-vehicle devices, including cell phones and visual displays.  Specifically, his interests involve modeling driver’s visual attention while interacting with these devices, and determining the associated performance decrements.  His research also examines how driver risk perceptions differ from actual hazards.
 
Previously, Dr. Horrey was a graduate research assistant with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign).  In this position, he conducted simulator research on various aspects of driver behavior and safety.  His work also involved the design, development, and application of a variety of human factors research projects.  At the University, he also taught laboratory classes in human factors and engineering psychology.
 
Dr. Horrey earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in psychology from the University of Illinois and his B.Sc. in psychology with honors from University of Calgary, (Alberta, Canada).  An active member of  the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, he chairs the Surface Transportation Technical Group, serves on the Society’s Publications Committee, and is an Associate Editor for the organization’s peer-reviewed journal Human Factors. He is also a member of the Transportation Research Board, the American Psychological Association, and the Association for Psychological Science.
Yueng-Hsiang (Emily) Huang, Ph.D.
Dr. Huang, an industrial and organizational psychologist and senior research scientist, joined the Research Institute staff in 2001. She conducts both laboratory and field research in areas such as occupational injury and accident prevention, and organizational culture and climate. Currently, her research interests involve organizational safety climate and culture in the trucking and utility industries.
 
Dr. Huang has a strong background in quantitative statistical analysis and considerable experience in survey research design. Previously, she worked as a senior research associate at the Foundation for Accountability (FACCT) Health Care Research Organization in Portland, Oregon. In this position, she conducted data analysis and provided database management for child and adolescent health care measurement projects. She also helped to develop, disseminate, and validate national online surveys to assess the quality of U.S. health care. Earlier, she worked as a supervisor and consultant at the Survey Research Lab of Portland State University (Oregon). She began her career at the University as a graduate research assistant, teaching assistant, and class instructor.
 
Dr. Huang received her Ph.D. in systems science and industrial and organizational psychology at Portland State University, her M.S. in industrial and organizational psychology at San Francisco State University, and her B.S. in psychology from the National Chengchi University in Taiwan. She is a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the American Psychology Association, and she is a member of the Society for Occupational Health Psychology. In 2009, she was appointed associate editor with the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.  She has authored 70+ peer-reviewed journal articles and presents her work widely.  In 2016, she received the Liberty Mutual CI President’s Award for her research and contribution on safety climate. 
Jesse Jacobs, Ph.D.
​Dr. Jacobs is a senior research scientist with the Center for Physical Ergonomics. A member of the Research Institute staff since 2015, Dr. Jacobs investigates the neural mechanisms that underlie human balance, posture and movement. To better understand these mechanisms, Dr. Jacobs employs a range of methodologies, such as the use of electroencephalography (EEG) to record movement-related brain activation, electromyography (EMG) to record muscle activation patterns, kinematics to record a person's movement, and kinetics to record the forces produced by a person's movement. With his research, Dr. Jacobs translates knowledge of these sensory-motor control mechanisms to evidence-based diagnostic tests and intervention strategies to improve health and independent function.
 
Prior to joining the Research Institute, Dr. Jacobs was an associate professor at the University of Vermont, where he explored the neurophysiological mechanisms of balance and posture associated with low back pain, aging, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Huntington’s disease. Investigations have included mechanistic examinations of motor control, development of diagnostic tests, and determining the efficacy of exercise and physical therapy-based interventions. Dr. Jacobs received his post-doctoral training also at the University of Vermont, during which he focused on the neural mechanisms of motor control in people with chronic low back pain. Dr. Jacobs earned his doctorate in neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University, where he evaluated the role of the cerebral cortex on balance and posture as well as the effects of age and Parkinson’s disease on balance and posture. He received a Bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Colorado College, where he studied the quantitative neuromorphology of human cerebral cortex.
Mary F. Lesch, Ph.D.
​Dr. Lesch joined the Research Institute in 1999 as a researcher in the area of cognitive engineering. Primarily, her research focuses on risk perception and communication. Since joining the research team, she has investigated the effects of age and training on warning symbol comprehension, whether drivers accurately assess the risks associated with driving while distracted, and how people perceive slipperiness.
Previously, Dr. Lesch worked as a lecturer in psychology at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and taught classes in cognitive psychology, the psychology of reading, and the psychology of language. She also served as the chair of the Department of Psychology’s Human Subjects Committee.
 
Dr. Lesch obtained her post-doctoral training in neuropsychology at Rice University and received her Ph.D. and M.S. in cognitive psychology at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst. She completed her undergraduate studies in psychology and linguistics at the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Lesch’s work has appeared in a variety of journals including Accident Analysis and Prevention, Ergonomics, and the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.
Yulan Liang, Ph.D.
​Dr. Liang joined the Liberty Mutual Research Institute staff in 2010 as a research scientist with the Center for Behavioral Sciences. She focuses her work in the areas of driver safety, performance impairment and assessment, behavior modeling, and data mining. Currently, she is investigating real-time assessment of driver performance and safety risk under various impairments.
 
Dr. Liang brings a strong engineering and behavioral background to the Institute. Prior to joining the staff, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at North Carolina State University, focusing her research in the area of transportation. In 2009, she received a Ph.D. in Human Factors from the Department of Industrial Engineering at University of Iowa. She received an M.S. and B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. A member of Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, she currently serves as a reviewer of the journals including Accident Analysis and Prevention and Human Factors. She has authored a book chapter and has published and presented her research widely.
David A. Lombardi, Ph.D.
As a principal research scientist, Dr. Lombardi develops and applies new and alternative epidemiological approaches to studies involving traumatic occupational injuries. Through his investigations, he seeks to identify risk and protective factors related to the worker, environment, and equipment.  Areas of recent focus include risks associated with temporal factors, such as work scheduling and sleep, the validation of injury-related exposures, and factors related to personal protection equipment use. Prior to joining the staff in 2001, he collaborated with the Research Institute on a three-year project through the Harvard School of Public Health Occupational Health Program.  In this role, he served as the study coordinator and researcher for the first application of the case-crossover design in an occupational injury study.
 
As a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Dr. Lombardi worked for the occupational epidemiology unit where he helped develop an epidemiologic surveillance system of U.S. Navy submariners. Before changing his career focus to injury epidemiology in 1996, he worked for eight years in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.  During this time, he served as associate director of biostatistics and senior biostatistician at PAREXEL International Corporation and Hybridon, Inc. and as a senior biostatistician for the Clinical Trials Group of Abt Associates, Inc. His work involved clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of new drugs submitted for FDA approval.
 
Dr. Lombardi obtained his Ph.D. in public health with an epidemiology concentration and an industrial hygiene minor from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He also earned his M.S. with a concentration in biostatistics and B.A. in social and demographic research. In 2001, the University appointed him as an adjunct assistant professor.  In 2003, the Harvard School of Public Health appointed him as an instructor, where he directs the course in injury epidemiology and prevention.
 
Dr. Lombardi, along with his colleagues, received the 2006 National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Partnering Award for Worker Health and Safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2002, he was elected into the Delta Omega National Public Health Honorary Society.  A member of the American Public Health Association and the Society for Epidemiologic Research, he has published in a variety of journals including, the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Safety Science, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Journal of Chronobiology, and Injury Prevention.
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Helen Marucci-Wellman, Sc.D.
​A senior research scientist with the Institute’s Center for Injury Epidemiology, Dr. Marucci-Wellman is primarily involved in developing new research and analytical methods for occupational injury surveillance. She focuses her efforts on the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index project, which she has led since its inception in 2000. In this role, she develops and documents methods for using workers compensation data for research. Her work also involves analyzing data from other large national health databases, such as the National Health Interview Survey, and developing new research methods for narrative text analysis. Her recent research projects include a collaborative investigation with the Vietnam National Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health (NIOEH) and the Vietnam Occupational Health Association (VOHA), in which she served as the principal investigator in a joint project that explored a public health model for reporting work-related injuries in Vietnam.
 
Dr. Marucci-Wellman has a strong background in occupational health surveillance, data analysis, and ergonomics. Prior to joining Liberty Mutual, she worked as a program manager and research analyst for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP), where she managed the collection and analysis of occupational injuries and illnesses reported to the state health department. As a research assistant at the University of Massachusetts Lowell Research Foundation, Work Environment Department, she worked on a team to study occupational health hazards in construction on Boston’s Central Artery/Harbor Tunnel Project. Her career began as a systems engineer at Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, New York.
 
Dr. Marucci-Wellman was appointed an Honorary Visiting Research Scientist by the Vietnam National Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health in 2006. She, along with her colleagues, received the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2006 National Occupational Research Agenda Partnering Award for Worker Health and Safety for their work on a multi-national research project on slips and falls among health care workers. During the same year, the Liberty Mutual Group awarded her the prestigious Chairman’s Award in recognition of her unique and inspirational contributions to the company.
 
Dr. Marucci-Wellman completed her education at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, receiving her Doctor of Science degree in epidemiology in 2008 from the work environment program and M.S. in work environment, ergonomics/industrial hygiene in 1995. The school presented her with the Margaret Becklake Award in recognition of her pioneering surveillance research in Vietnam. In 1983, she received her B.S. in civil engineering from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. A member of the Society of Epidemiologic Research, she also serves on the advisory board of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Occupational Health Surveillance Program.
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Veronica Miyasike-daSilva, Ph.D.
​Dr. Miyasike-daSilva joined the Liberty Mutual Research Institute staff in 2015 as a research scientist with the Center for Physical Ergonomics. Her research interests focus on the visual and cognitive processes involved with posture and locomotion control. In her investigations, she uses biomechanical, neurophysiological and psychophysical tools to better understand how people use visual information to interact with the environment. The ultimate goal of her research is to advance knowledge of fall mechanisms and contribute to program development and strategies to reduce falls and promote safe mobility in workplaces, homes, and the community.
 
Dr. Miyasike-daSilva’s training and experience includes research on posture and gait, mobility, eye tracking, executive function, and aging. She has investigated gait and postural control under a variety of conditions such as, stairs, irregular terrains, postural perturbations, and low light environments. Prior to joining the Research Institute, she completed post-doctoral fellowships with Sunnybrook Health Sciences, Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery (Toronto, Canada) and with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Canada).
 
In 2011, Dr. Miyasike-daSilva received a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo. She is also a graduate of the University of São Paulo State (Rio Claro, Brazil) where she received an M.Sc. in Human Movement Sciences and a Bachelor degree in Physical Education. She has published 15 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including Experimental Brain Research, PLoS ONE, and Gait & Posture. She has also contributed to two book chapters and more than 40 conference abstracts.
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Y. Ian Noy, Ph.D., CPE
​In 2006, Dr. Noy was named a vice president of Liberty Mutual Group and director of the Research Institute for Safety. He is responsible for the research program in occupational safety, driving safety, and disability/return to work. In addition to directing the internal research programs, he establishes collaborative relationships with premier occupational health and safety research organizations around the world.
 
Dr. Noy brings more than 35 years of professional experience to the Research Institute. His background encompasses ergonomics, human factors, and motor vehicle safety. Most recently, he served as director of Standards Research and Development in Transport Canada’s Road Safety Directorate and president of Systems Ergonomics Inc., a consulting firm specializing in industrial and forensic ergonomics.
 
A Certified Professional Ergonomist, Dr. Noy earned his Ph.D. and M.A. at the University of Toronto in Industrial Engineering and Human Factors.  He also earned his B.A. from the University in Engineering Science. He is a past president of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA), a fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and a past president and fellow of the Association of Canadian Ergonomists/Association canadienne d’ergonomie. In 1994, Dr. Noy was the chairman of the 12th Congress of the IEA held in Toronto. He received the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Award for Engineering Excellence in 2001 and the Distinguished Colleague Award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society in 2005.
 
Dr. Noy’s applied research experience spans applications of human performance and operating systems in the air, on the ground, and underwater, including military research and development. With more than 150 scientific and technical reports, and conference and journal articles, he has presented numerous lectures on a variety of human factors topics.
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Glenn S. Pransky, M.D., M.Occ.H.
​Dr. Pransky joined the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in 1999. As director of the Center for Disability Research, he is responsible for program direction, research development, establishing collaborative relationships, and overseeing the internal and external communication of research findings. His research interests include disability prevention and prognosis of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, work disability in older workers, and enhancing the return to work process. He focuses his scientific investigations on effective methods to achieve safe and sustained return to work and ways to prevent work disability. In several projects, he has examined methods to measure the quality and outcomes for workers with work-related conditions.
 
In addition to his position at the Institute, Dr. Pransky serves as an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and is a visiting lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts/Lowell. Prior to joining Liberty Mutual, he was director of the Occupational and Environmental Health Program at the University of Massachusetts, where he oversaw research activities in occupational health and the occupational medicine residency program. In 1995, he was a visiting scholar at the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Washington, DC, where he focused on outcomes research.
 
Dr. Pransky holds a medical license in Massachusetts. Board-certified in both occupational medicine and internal medicine, he received his M.D. from the Tufts University School of Medicine and a Master’s degree in occupational health from the Harvard School of Public Health. He is an active member of several professional organizations, including the Massachusetts Medical Society, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and is Chairman of the Work Disability Prevention Scientific Committee of the International Commission on Occupational Health. Recently, he was appointed to the National Academy of Social Insurance.
 
An editorial reviewer for publications including the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and the American Journal of Public Health, Dr. Pransky has produced more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications, authored numerous book chapters, and frequently presents at international scientific conferences and seminars.
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Michelle M. Robertson, Ph.D., CPE
Dr. Robertson has conducted applied research in ergonomics and systems management for nearly 20 years. Her research, primarily in office environments, focuses on work organization, job demands, worksite interventions, and training program design effectiveness. She has studied a variety of industries including telecommunications, aerospace, automobile, and computer manufacturing.
 
Before joining the Research Institute in 1998, Dr. Robertson was a senior research manager in the product research group at Herman Miller, an office systems furniture company in Holland, Michigan. In this position, she conducted applied research projects in ergonomics and organizational and individual effectiveness. She also served 12 years on the faculty at the University of Southern California’s Institute of Safety and Systems Management. In this role, she conducted research and taught in the areas of occupational ergonomics, macroergonomics, work system design, instructional design, and training.
 
A board certified professional ergonomist, Dr. Robertson holds a Ph.D. in instructional technology and an M.S. in systems management from the University of Southern California.  She received her B.A. in human factors from the University of California, Santa Barbara. A Fellow of the International Ergonomics Society, she is also a member and Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and has served as their secretary/treasurer and an executive council member.  In 2008, she was a co-recipient of the National Occupational Research Agenda Innovative Research Award for Worker Health and Safety. She has published more than 95 scientific papers and has presented her work around the world.
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Jeffrey M. Schiffman, Ph.D.
Dr. Schiffman, Ph.D. joined the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in 2014. As the Director for the Center for Physical Ergonomics, Dr. Schiffman leads the Center’s research team to explore new approaches to understanding the physiological and biomechanical origins of injury within the general population and across a range of physical settings.
 
Prior to joining the Research Institute, Dr. Schiffman served as Biomechanics Team Leader within the Human Sciences and Engineering Branch of the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) in Natick, MA from 2010-2014. Dr. Schiffman led the team’s basic and applied research in the Center for Military Biomechanics Research investigating a range of ergonomics related topics for load carriage, personal protective equipment, wearable robotics and other advanced technology development efforts. As a principal investigator at the NSRDEC since 2001, he examined a range of biomechanics research areas related to soldier load carriage optimization to enhance knowledge regarding mobility, agility, fatigue and other aspects of physical performance.
 
Dr. Schiffman has authored numerous peer-reviewed scientific articles, reports and conference presentations. He was a co-recipient of a 2012 Department of the Army Research and Development Award for outstanding scientific and technical excellence. He has participated in national and international committees and working groups as a recognized authority related to biomechanics and human sciences for soldier load carriage.
 
Dr. Schiffman holds an M.S.Ed. and Ph.D. from the Department of Health, Sports, and Exercise Sciences as well as a graduate concentration certificate in Gerontology from the University of Kansas. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of California, San Diego. He serves on the editorial boards for Clinical Biomechanics and Gait & Posture.
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Bahar Sharafi, Ph.D.
​Dr. Sharafi is a research scientist with the Center for Physical Ergonomics. A member of the Research Institute staff since 2015, her research focuses on investigating the mechanics and neural control of balance and locomotion in environments that challenge stability. Her research interests include neuromuscular control, muscle mechanics, aging, and neurological injury. Throughout her research, she has applied engineering methods to biological questions related to human movement.
 
Prior to joining the Research Institute, Dr. Sharafi was a post-doctoral fellow at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, where she explored underlying motor control and neurophysiological mechanisms of balance control deficits after stroke. During her post-doctoral training, she also participated as a visiting scholar at the NIH Center for Biomedical Computation at Stanford University. There, she developed musculoskeletal simulations to study how muscles contribute to balance recovery during walking.
 
Dr. Sharafi earned her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and her Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran. In her doctoral studies, she investigated open questions related to the structure and function of skeletal muscle using techniques from computational mechanics and composite materials science. She has published a number of scientific papers in the Journal of Biomechanics and has presented her work at conferences nationally and internationally. She is a member of the American Society of Biomechanics and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
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William S. Shaw, Ph.D., PE
​Dr. Shaw joined the Liberty Mutual Research Institute in 2000. A senior principal research scientist with the Center for Disability Research, his work focuses on improving return-to-work outcomes for work-related musculoskeletal conditions through the integration of clinical and workplace factors. Currently, he is investigating risk factors for delayed recovery from occupational low back pain and examining optimal supervisory practices for responding to workplace injuries. His other studies have focused on patient-provider communication of workplace concerns and the strategies that workers use to stay on the job while managing recurrent pain. In addition to his current position, Dr. Shaw is an instructor with the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts.
 
Before joining the Research Institute, Dr. Shaw completed a post-doctoral fellowship in occupational health psychology at Georgetown University. He received his Ph.D. from the San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology with a study emphasis in behavioral medicine. Prior to his graduate studies, he worked as a consulting civil engineer for ten years. He earned his B.S. in civil engineering from Pennsylvania State University.
 
Dr. Shaw holds a psychology license from the State of Maryland and a civil engineering license from the State of California. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and the International Association for the Study of Pain. With more than 30 scientific publications, Dr. Shaw’s work has appeared in Pain, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, and Health Psychology.
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Maurizio Trippolini, Ph.D.
​In 2015, Dr. Trippolini joined the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety as a disability research scientist. He will initiate a new program of research focused on recovery after traffic accidents, including early risk identification, intervention and disability prevention.
 
Dr. Trippolini’s broad professional background includes experience as a rehabilitation clinician, program director and researcher. Early in his career, he joined the Department of Ergonomics of the Rehaklinik Bellikon, an enterprise of the Swiss Accident Insurance Fund. While there he was appointed as rehabilitation director of the Department of Work Rehabilitation. In this role, he expanded the department from one to four interdisciplinary teams including psychologists, physicians, therapists and administrative staff, and developed and implemented innovative approaches for rehabilitation interventions.
 
Before joining the Research Institute, Dr. Trippolini completed his Ph.D. in medical sciences at the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Groningen in The Netherlands. Prior, he had received a Master in physiotherapy-sciences from the Department of Epidemiology at the Faculty of Health Sciences at Maastricht University. Dr. Trippolini also earned a Bachelor degree in physical therapy.
 
Dr. Trippolini has presented and delivered more than 50 invited lectures in Europe and North America. His scientific work has appeared in a variety of journals including the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spine and the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation.
Santosh K. Verma, Sc.D., M.D., M.P.H.
Dr. Verma is a senior research scientist with the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety's Center for Injury Epidemiology. Since joining the staff in 2001, his research has focused on investigating the causes and consequences of injuries resulting from slips, trips, and same-level falls, as well as studies on return-to-work outcomes following various medical treatments. His work involves conducting field studies and analyzing data from large databases.
 
In addition to his current position, Dr. Verma is an instructor with the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts. A member of the American Public Health Association, he also serves on the National Occupational Research Agenda Wholesale and Retail Trade Sector Council, sponsored by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. He has published in a variety of journals including, Injury Prevention, Ergonomics, Spine, and the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. In 2006, Dr. Verma and his colleagues received the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Partnering Award for Worker Health and Safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2008, he received the NORA Innovative Research Award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
Dr. Verma obtained his Doctorate in Occupational Health with a concentration in occupational injury epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. He earned his Master’s degree with a concentration in biostatistics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Prior to coming to the United States, Dr. Verma received an MBBS degree from Gandhi Medical College, Bhopal, India, and practiced medicine in India for two years.
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