For outstanding research contributions, as well as years of service, Abigail Wooldridge was presented the inaugural Robert L. Wears Early Career Award by the Health Care Technical Group of The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Wooldridge is an assistant professor of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering and of biomedical and translational sciences at Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

The new Robert L. Wears early career award aims to highlight the achievements of academics and practitioners in the first six years from graduation.

This award is named in honor of Robert L. “Bob” Wears, M.D., M.S., Ph.D., for his groundbreaking work in human factors in health care. Professor Wooldridge remembers him fondly as a generous mentor with time for her when she was a first-year graduate student.

Wooldridge cites Wears’s final, posthumous book, Still Not Safe: Patient Safety and the Middle-Managing of American Medicine, as an important contribution to the literature. Published in 2019, the book’s message still rings true, as medical accidents remain the third most common cause of death in America, after heart disease and cancer.

Wooldridge says, “It’s very special to have won the inaugural award… given that my overall goal has always been to use engineering to make health care better and safer, this is tremendous for me.”

Since 1957, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society sponsors meetings and publications to promote the exchange of knowledge, to advance human factors education and programs, and to strengthen relationships among members and supporters.

Professor Wooldridge was one of 28 key leaders of the University of Illinois system’s COVID-19 response team honored with the Presidential Medallion.

She also holds appointments with the Coordinated Science Lab, the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, Computer Science, and the School of Information Sciences at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Editor’s note: The original version of this article can be found here.