The OPL presently funds a number of full time researchers, graduate students, and undergraduate students, one part-time crew chief, one part-time emeritus faculty, one adjunct faculty, and one faculty from the Department of Neurology. To date, Dr. Schnell wrote a total of around 95 proposals to various funding agencies, and research associated with the OPL resulted in a total of 41 journal articles (3 thereof in review), 73 conference proceeding articles, and 41 other publications or presentations. There are two faculty involved at the OPL. They are Dr. Tom Schnell, and Dr. Enrique Leira (assistant professor department of neurology). The laboratory infrastructure is situated in a separate 8,400 sq ft. facility at the Iowa City Municipal airport. Due to the recent growth of OPL, the lab has recently expanded into a second hanger. OPL operates over 60 computer workstations, two instrumented vehicles (Model 997 HMMWV, Lexus LS 430), four eye movement recording systems, a full flight deck flight simulator of a Boeing 737-800 with a five channel wide field-of-view visual system, FLIR simulation, and an HGS 4000 HUD, a generic wide-body flight simulator display laboratory, a helicopter simulator, and a General Aviation Work Station (GAWS) flight simulator. The OPL also operates and MI-2 twin turbine helicopter for research, two Aerovodochody L-29 Delfin jet aircraft and a research aircraft called the Computerized Airborne Research Platform (CARP), a 1978 Beech Bonanza. The OPL Research pilots are Tom Schnell (Chief Pilot), Aaron Williams, and Dale Yoder.
The Aviation research focus includes neurally inspired interfaces, Cognitive Avionics, synthetic and enhanced vision, flight test research, flight simulation, pilot eye movements, pilot and crew performance and workload, upset prevention and recovery, situation awareness assessment, and display optimization research. The aviation concerns are examined in the L-29 jets, the Beech Bonanza (CARP), and the flight simulators.
The OPL is also very active in ground transportation research which is primarily concerned with operator performance in ground transportation applications from a human factors perspective. Particular research topics include driver distraction, driver eye movement research, visibility modeling, neurophysiology-based human visual system modeling, workload and performance assessment through physiological measures, visibility and legibility of traffic controls, traffic flow modeling and crash analysis. This research is carried out in the labs and on the road. For on road studies the OPL has an instrumented Model 997 HMMWV and Lexus LS 430.