College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

Kapil Chalil Madathil wins young-investigator award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society


A Clemson University associate professor who has applied his mastery of human factors and ergonomics to a wide range of challenges, has made his mark as an inventor and has helped launch students into careers with top employers received one of his profession’s most prestigious awards for early-career researchers.

Kapil Chalil Madathil, the Wilfred P. Tiencken Endowed Associate Professor of Industrial and Civil Engineering, won this year’s William C. Howell Young Investigator award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES).

Kapil Chalil Madathil

The award “recognizes the talent, creativity, and influence of a singular young researcher,” according to the society’s website. He will receive the award Oct. 10 at a ceremony in Atlanta.

Chalil Madathil said he is grateful for the recognition.

“This award reflects not only my work but also the diligent hard work and support of my team, including my family, my mentors and the students in my research group,” he said. “I thank my nominators, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and all those who have supported me throughout the years.”

Chalil Madathil received a Master of Science and a Ph.D., both in industrial engineering from Clemson, after studying under Joel Greenstein, now a professor emeritus.

In the nine years since receiving his doctorate, Chalil Madathil has applied his talents to a wide spectrum of research, ranging from cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing to remote learning and telemedicine.

Much of his work has made the jump from the lab to the real world.

His research, for example, is helping improve emergency medical service in underserved rural communities and helping find new ways to keep young adults from engaging in potentially harmful internet challenges.

Chalil Madathil and his colleagues have also developed a workplace wearable device-based ecosystem designed to keep employees safe. This intellectual property has been commercialized and is currently being used to monitor workplace safety in several Fortune 500 companies, including Amazon.

Chalil Madathil has five additional invention disclosures, including two generating significant revenue through the Clemson University Research Foundation. He was awarded the foundation’s Inventor’s Club Award in 2018 and 2019.

Chalil Madathil has secured more than $22 million in research funding from a variety of federal and state agencies and industry. His work has resulted in 63 conference papers and 52 publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Chalil Madathil’s articles have been cited more than 2,350 times.

Kevin Taaffe, chair of Clemson’s Department of Industrial Engineering, said Chalil Madathil is highly deserving of the award.

“This award solidifies Kapil’s position as one of the nation’s top young human-factors and ergonomics researchers,” Taaffe said. “He is having an impact not only as a researcher and scholar but also as a teacher and mentor. I congratulate him on the award.”

Jesus M. de la Garza, director of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, said the award is a reflection of Chalil Madathil’s exemplary interdisciplinary work.

“Kapil’s work is at the intersection of disciplines, which positions him to work across departments and institutions for maximum impact,” de la Garza said. “The young-investigator award is a well-deserved tribute to and commensurate with the first part of his career.”

Jennifer Ogle, chair of the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, said Chalil Madathil is having an impact at Clemson and beyond.

“Kapil is a highly dedicated researcher and educator whose impact transcends traditional academic silos,” she said. “It is a joy to work with him, and I offer him my deepest congratulations on his latest award.”

Chalil Madathil’s former students have gone on to careers with top public and private employers, including Google, John Deere, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Several of his students have been selected for top honors, including department- and college-level undergraduate research awards, and highly competitive scholarships, including the U.S. Department of Defense SMART Scholarship.

Chalil Madathil has graduated five Ph.D. students and two master’s students. His current research team includes five Ph.D. students, three master’s students and two postdoctoral researchers.

Chalil Madathil has also been active in professional-society service, recently completing a four-year term as program chair of the HFES Computer Systems Technical Group. He is currently chair of the Alphonse Chapanis Best Student Paper Award Committee, co-chair of the Mentorship Committee and associate editor of the HFES journal Human Factors in Healthcare and Ergonomics and Design.

Among those congratulating Chalil Madathil was Tanju Karanfil, vice president for research at Clemson. 

“Kapil exemplifies the best of the field,” Karanfil said. “He is an outstanding scholar and researcher who has the foresight to anticipate the challenges of the 21st century, and he is an exemplary teacher and mentor who is creating the next generation of human factors engineers. This award is well deserved.”

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