With the $1.2 million in NSF funding, Gloria Mark and fellow researchers will attempt to detect stress using devices commonly found at work and to reduce stress through personalized relaxation exercises. Steve Zylius / UCI

Gloria Mark gets grant to study workplace stress

Informatics professor Gloria Mark has been awarded a National Science Foundation Cyber-Human Systems grant to study methods of identifying and addressing workplace stress. The $1.2 million grant runs through July 2020 and will be shared with co-investigators Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna of Texas A&M University and Ioannis Pavlidis of the University of Houston. Mark’s portion of the funding is $420,000. The research goals are twofold: to detect stress using devices commonly found at work (such as webcams, fitness trackers and keyboards) and to reduce stress through relaxation exercises using personalized predictive models and interventions. The team will utilize 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. The researchers will also create a framework for recommending brief stress reduction exercises based on the current context. Through iterative prototyping, they aim to develop mobile apps that employ biofeedback, games and music to support breathing exercises and promote relaxation.