B.S. Computer Science, University of Virginia, 2003M.S. Systems Engineering, University of Virginia, 2006Ph.D. Systems Engineering, University of Virginia, 2010

Dr. Bolton is an Associate Professor in the Department of Systems and Information Engineering at the University of Virginia. Prior to joining UVA in January 2022, he was a Senior Researcher at the NASA Ames Research Center, an Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an Assistant/Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. Dr. Bolton is primarily interested in studying why engineered systems fail, and how to prevent failures through human-centered systems engineering. As such, he is an expert on the use of formal, mathematical methods in human factors engineering, particularly as it relates to discovering engineering oversights that lead to human behavior, error, and cognition contributing to failures. He has successfully applied his research to safety-critical applications in aerospace, medicine, defense, and cybersecurity. Dr. Bolton has received funding on projects sponsored by the European Space Agency, NSF, NASA, AHRQ, and DoD.


  • Jerome H. Ely Human Factors Article Award, for the best paper published in the Human Factors journal 2021
  • William C. Howell Young Investigator Award, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2018
  • Army Young Investigator Award 2015-2017
  • Senior Member of the IEEE Society 2015
  • Franklin V. Taylor Memorial Award for the Best Conference Paper at the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Systems Man and Cybernetics 2011

Research Interests

  • System safety and reliability
  • Human performance modeling
  • Formal methods
  • Situational and spatial awareness
  • Human-automation/-autonomy/-robot interaction
  • Complex systems failure
  • Psychophysics and psychometrics
  • Auditory perception
  • Cyber security
  • Technology and democracy
  • Engineering ethics

Selected Publications

  • Masking between reserved alarm sounds of the IEC 60601-1-8 international medical alarm standard: A systematic, formal analysis. Human Factors, 17 pages ABS Bolton, M. L., Edworthy, J., & Boyd, A. D. (ND)
  • A formal method for including the probability of erroneous human task behavior in system analysis. Reliability Engineering & System Safety, 213, 13 pages Bolton, M. L., Zheng, X., & Kang, E. (2021)
  • The level of measurement of trust in automation. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomic Science, 22, 274-295 Wei, J., Bolton, M. L., Humphry, L. (2021)
  • The development of a next-generation human reliability analysis: Systems analysis for formal pharmaceutical human reliability (SAFPH℞). Reliability Engineering & System Safety, 202, 15 pages Zheng, X., Bolton, M. L., Daly, C., & Biltekoff, E. (2020)
  • Evaluating the applicability of the double system lens model to the analysis of phishing email judgments. Computers and Security, 17, 128-137 Molinaro, K., & Bolton, M. L. (2018)
  • A task-based taxonomy of erroneous human behavior. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 108, 105-121 Bolton, M. L. (2017)