The dissertation of Lt. Col. Kristen Casto, Au.D., Ph.D. of the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory was selected as the Outstanding Dissertation in Aerospace Human Factors for 2010. Casto's dissertation is entitled "Workload and Communication Signal Quality on Black Hawk Helicopter Simulator Pilot Performance." The honor, given by the Aerospace Human Factors Association is named the Stanley N. Roscoe Award after one of the major pioneers in aviation human factors. The award was presented to Casto at the AsHFA annual conference May 10. In the field of human factors engineering and ergonomics, the Stanley N. Roscoe award is one of the most prestigious honors given to one person annually.
The AsHFA is the largest, most representative professional organization in the fields of aviation, space, and environmental medicine. Its mission is to apply and advance scientific knowledge to promote and enhance the health, safety and performance of those involved in aerospace and related activities. The AsHFAâ€™s goals are to encourage human factors considerations in the development of aerospace systems, to apply knowledge of human performance to system development, to promote research on factors affecting human performance, and to exchange information with other groups having similar interests.
After learning she earned the award, Casto commented, "This award is quite an honor for me, but hardly an individual effort. My academic advisor at Virginia Tech, Dr. John Casali, and my dissertation committee were extremely supportive of a project that directly related to Army Aviation. I also appreciate the entire team of professionals at USAARL who assisted me in completing the project. So, it really is a team award."
Casto is a research audiologist and Chief of the Acoustics Research Branch at USAARL. Her research focuses on acoustics, and human factors and ergonomics. Specifically, Casto''s research concentrates on the evaluation of hearing protection and communication devices, and the investigation of the auditory and vestibular effects of blast injuries. The Acoustics Branch is currently involved in a study aimed at developing functional hearing assessments for a variety of military occupational specialties. Aviation-specific functional assessments are a natural follow-on to this dissertation work, which investigated the performance effects of normal hearing and hearing impaired aviators with several communication devices in the operational flight environment. Additionally, the branch is working on establishing auditory return-to-duty standards, which can be correlated with functional hearing assessments in operational environments.