Professor Mark Aims to Reduce Workplace Stress

December 22, 2017

Informatics Professor Gloria Mark has received funding from a National Science Foundation Cyber-Human Systems (NSF CHS) grant to study methods to detect and address workplace stress. The $1.2 million grant, “Managing Stress in the Workplace: Unobtrusive Monitoring and Adaptive Interventions,” with Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna of Texas A&M University and Ioannis Pavlidis of the University of Houston, runs through July 2020. Mark’s share of the funding is $420,000.

The research goals are twofold: detect stress using devices commonly found at work (such as webcams, fitness trackers and keyboards) and reduce stress through relaxation exercises using personalized predictive models and interventions. The team will use machine learning to determine whether such devices can accurately predict stress levels, and they will conduct a long-term study in a real office environment to test the validity of their work. They will also develop a framework for recommending brief stress-reduction exercises based on the current context. Through iterative prototyping, they aim to develop mobile apps that use biofeedback, games and music to support breathing exercises and promote relaxation.