Timothy BallardDr Timothy Ballard is a DECRA Research Fellow in the UQ School of Psychology. His main areas of interest are motivation, decision making, and performance.

Current research

The aim of Dr Ballard's research is to understand why people do what they do when they do it: "At any given point in time, there’s a multitude of tasks we could be focusing our attention on. They all might have different deadlines, some might be more important than others, some might be easier whereas others might be harder. So how do we integrate all this information to make a decision about what task to prioritise?"

Not only has his work advanced theory in psychology, he has engaged with industry on a number of projects that apply the outcomes generated from his research to achieve practical impact. This has focused on using research knowledge to enhance system safety and performance in safety critical operations, i.e. in environments where failure to prioritise effectively can have catastrophically negative consequences. These include current projects with the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG). One project uses this knowledge to develop work design concepts and decision support tools for air defense: how people perform when they have to manage multiple incoming threats, and how systems can support that. The other project looks at understanding how fatigue impacts performance in submarine operations, with the goal of building a tool to forecast fatigue that can be used for risk management.

Dr Ballard has another project with Boeing examining how to design a system where a remote pilot could simultaneously manage multiple drones, instead of every drone having to have its own operator.

He has also done some work on climate change communication, where the goal was to help communicate information about uncertainty in a manner that makes it easy for policy makers and other stakeholders to make effective decisions.

Career highlights

  • Dr Ballard's research program has already attracted multiple ARC grants, including a DECRA fellowship that commenced in 2018 and a Discovery Project that commenced in 2019.
  • He has consistently published in the premier outlets within his field, which have included Journal of Applied Psychology (three times), Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, among others.
  • He has obtained more than $750,000 in funding from industry for projects that use the knowledge he has developed to enhance system safety and performance in applied contexts, such as aviation and military operations.