Jennifer Smith, PhD

- St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

Growing up in Newfoundland, Dr. Jennifer Smith's love for the ocean may have come naturally. Today, Jennifer is a postdoctoral fellow in the Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre, working with graduate students on human-centred training and technology.

After receiving a Bachelor of Applied Science from Acadia University and a Bachelor of Engineering – Biological Discipline from Dalhousie University, Jennifer went to work as a researcher developing marine training simulators at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN). While at MUN, she pursued master's (2015) and PhD (2020) degrees in Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering.

She later went on to work as an instructor and researcher in the Fisheries and Marine Institute of MUN for 2 years, where she taught courses in the Institute's new graduate program, "Safety: the Human Element," before bringing her expertise in maritime human factors to the NRC for a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship.

"Essentially, I conduct studies with people and training simulators to understand, design and evaluate human-technology prototypes," Jennifer explains.

"My aim is to advance simulation training and validate decision-support technologies to help seafarers manage the ongoing transformation of the maritime workplace in response to automation, digitalization and artificial intelligence."

The NRC's human-centred safety postdoctoral fellowship focuses on the integration of humans with maritime autonomous surface ships, or MASS. Much of Jennifer's work to date has been on early-stage prototype development and evaluation, "working to demonstrate these concepts as a pathway to developing MASS," she says.

Some of her students are looking at how to use technology to train people or to support decision-making in the context of ice operations, in a simulated environment.

Jennifer enjoys being part of a multidisciplinary research team and feels she has benefitted from the NRC's extensive expertise in developing and evaluating innovative technologies, and from learning about how others conduct research.

Colleagues are very welcoming, she says, with a wide spectrum of domain expertise. "I'm motivated by other people's passion and work ethic for their research," Jennifer adds; "I would highly recommend this program to others!"

Find out more about the NRC's Postdoctoral Fellowship program and Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre.

Jennifer Smith conducts studies with people and training simulators to design and evaluate human-technology prototypes at the NRC's facilities in St. John's.