Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access

Who We Are

Faculty & Research Staff

Jon Sanford

Jon Sanford, Director

Jon Sanford, M. Arch, is the director of the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) and a professor of industrial design at Georgia Tech’s College of Design. He also a co-director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technologies for Successful Aging with Disability, supported by the Department of Health and Human Services. He is one of the few architecturally trained researchers engaged in rehabilitation research and is internationally recognized for his expertise in universal design, design for aging, workplace accommodations, and accessibility. He has more than 300 scholarly presentations and publications and is the author of Design for the Ages: Universal Design as a Rehabilitation Strategy. He has served on the boards of several organizations including the American Society on Aging and the Center for Aging Services Technologies and was recently appointed to a study committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Karen Milchus

Karen Milchus, Associate Director

Karen Milchus, M.S. in Biomedical Engineering, is the associate director of the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) and is a senior research engineer. Her research focuses on identifying and providing accommodations to employees and students with disabilities, with a particular focus on computer-based solutions. Karen was a co-director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Workplace Accommodations (Work RERC). Her research has included studies on the use and effectiveness of accommodations and universal design in the workplace, development of resources to help people make accommodation choices, studies on how to make science experiments accessible to students with disabilities, and development of training for rehabilitation professionals. Karen has provided assistive technology services to state vocational rehabilitation agencies in Georgia and Wisconsin. She is active in RESNA, an interdisciplinary association for the advancement of rehabilitation and assistive technologies.

Sarah Endicott

Sarah Endicott, Research Scientist I

Sarah Endicott graduated from Colorado State University in 1979 with a degree in occupational therapy. She began work at Georgia Tech and CATEA in 1984. Sarah served as an information specialist on assistive technology, and helped to develop, the national website on assistive technology. She has served as researcher and as principle investigator on projects involving accessibility on the Georgia Tech campus, for the state of Georgia, and for private and public businesses, and provided technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through the Southeast Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center. She has participated in the many activities for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Workplace Accommodations. She was part of the Civilian American and European Surface Anthropometry Resource (CAESAR) team that collected anthropometric data on the civilian population of the United States and Europe. More recently, Sarah worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs on projects studying assistive technology use and sleep with aging veterans and their caregivers. Her specialty areas include assistive technology and environmental accessibility.

Patricia Griffiths

Patricia Griffiths, Senior Research Scientist

Patricia Griffiths is a research scientist, life-span developmental psychologist, and gerontologist. She holds joint appointments at Georgia Tech, Emory University School of Medicine, and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Rehabilitation Research and Development Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation (CVNR). She is principal investigator of the CVNR Veteran Caregiving Support Studies Research Group, which focuses on translational and applied research dedicated to helping older adults and their caregivers age in place with dignity and choice. The mission of the group is to design, implement, and evaluate multicomponent, integrative medicine and technology-based rehabilitative interventions to improve function and care for older adults while optimizing quality of life, dignity, and respect for both caregiver and the care receiver.

Frances Harris

Frances Harris, Research Scientist I

Frances Harris is a research scientist at the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access. She is trained as an anthropologist and uses qualitative research methods to investigate the environmental contexts that promote or hinder opportunities for employment, mobility, and full participation in society among people with disabilities. Her most recent project includes defining participation outcomes in the workplace and the development of a self-report instrument that assesses the social inclusion of employees with disabilities in the workplace. She has also investigated facilitators and barriers to voting and developed a training program to help poll workers assist voters with disabilities during the electoral process. In addition, she has led a study examining the impact of wheelchair use and the environment on participation in the home and community among people with mobility disabilities.

Su Jin Lee

Su Jin (Susan) Lee, Research Scientist I

Su Jin (Susan) Lee is a licensed occupational therapist and research scientist at the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA). She earned her master's degree in occupational therapy from Washington University in St. Louis in 2013. Her primary research interests involve the environmental influences on functional independence and participation of community dwelling older adults. She is also broadly interested in assistive and universally designed technologies that benefit the health and participation of individuals with disabilities and age-related functional limitations. She is active in the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and is professional development coordinator of the Special Interest Group on Home and Community Health. She has prior clinical experience as an occupational therapist in inpatient rehabilitation and spinal cord injury units.

Maureen Linden

Maureen Linden, Senior Research Engineer

Maureen Linden joined the College of Design in 2004. Her work focuses on gathering evidence to support the provision of assistive technology and durable medical equipment devices and services to people with disabilities. She has expertise in seating and wheeled mobility, workplace accommodations, and accommodating post-secondary students with disabilities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, and emergency communications through wireless technologies. Her clinical experience in the medical and vocational service delivery models informs her research in these areas. She has a master’s in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia.

Harshal Mahajan

Harshal Mahajan, Research Scientist I

Harshal Mahajan is a research scientist in CATEA. He received his Ph.D. in rehabilitation science from the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests include assistive technologies for older adults and people with disabilities, specifically, smart living spaces and universal design practices in workplaces. Currently, he is involved with research projects under the TechSAge Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center. He has served as a reviewer for several peer reviewed conferences and journals including Assistive Technology, Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering. Previously, he led research initiatives at the Quality of Life Technologies Engineering Research Center and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

Sarah Melgen

Sarah Melgen, Research Scientist II

Sarah Melgen has a Master’s in public health and a B.S. in industrial design. The well-being and improvement of populations is a priority for her, and she uses a multidisciplinary approach to create method-based solutions for varied health-design problems. Sarah has worked in different sectors such as water and sanitation, maternal and child health, and medical device design, some of which included international fieldwork in Kenya. She currently works as a research scientist at the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA), under a five-year grant for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center. Her current projects include a study on grab bar design, as well as the development of an application used to promote safe walking for aging adults.

Tracy Mitzner

Tracy Mitzner, Senior Research Scientist

Tracy L. Mitzner is a senior research scientist. Her research focuses on understanding age-related changes and the potential of technology to support older adults, including those with impairments. Her research topics include older adults' acceptance and usage of emerging technologies (mobile applications, health monitoring, telepresence, robotics), particularly for applications to facilitate social and physical wellness. She is a co-director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) Technologies to Support Successful Aging with Disability (TechSAge), funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), and an Investigator on the NIH-funded Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement (CREATE).

Elena Remillard

Elena Remillard, Research Scientist II

Elena Remillard (formerly Elena Gonzalez) is a research scientist in the College of Design with a Master of Science in Gerontology. As a gerontologist, Elena contributes her expertise in aging to various technology and aging research initiatives at Georgia Tech. She joined CATEA in 2015 and currently serves as both the project coordinator and an investigator for RERC TechSAge (Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technologies to Support for Successful Aging with Disability). In this role, Elena manages programming, reporting, and community outreach for the TechSAge grant center. She is also a co-coordinator of Design and Technologies for Healthy Aging (DATHA), a networking/innovation initiative on healthy aging that brings together Georgia Tech researchers and students with practitioners, service providers, and industry professionals in the community. Previously, Elena played an integral role in establishing Georgia Tech HomeLab, which provides the capability to conduct in-home technology studies with a diverse population of older adult research participants in the Atlanta area. Her specific research interests include design and technology for aging in place, technology acceptance among older adults, and assistive technology for aging with disability.

Robert Todd

Robert L. Todd, Senior Research Scientist

Robert L. Todd is the director of the Accessible Education and Information Laboratory for the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access at Georgia Tech, where he conducts research, teaching and information dissemination on new models of STEM education. He is the principal investigator for the National Science Foundation’s “BreakThru” project that explores the implementation of virtual worlds and new models for education in secondary and post-secondary education. Todd is under joint appointment, also serving as the director of Policy and Partnership Development for the University System of Georgia’s Office of Academic Affairs. He leads the USG Complete College Georgia initiative that strives to ensure increased college completion through guided pathways, predictive analytics, intentional advising, and related efforts. He directs the publication of Complete College Georgia plans for state institutions of higher education, administers grants and project funding for institutions, and creates state/regional symposia to support university efforts. Todd’s skills and experience include innovations in completion agendas and policy, innovative education models, and universal design practices for education.

Administrative Staff

Charlie Drummond, Administrative Assistant

Charlie Drummond is an administrative assistant for the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access. Born and raised in Georgia, he has worked as an administrative professional in both the public and private sectors, and joined CATEA’s staff in 2005. Charlie provides support to the directors, researchers, and staff of CATEA by assisting with scheduling, coordinating travel, and hiring students.

Trin Intra

Trin Intra, Financial Admin III

Trin Intra manages the financial and administrative operations at the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA). She joined CATEA in August 2007. Previously, she worked for one year on an autistic spectrum disorder project at Sonoma State University and seven years on a United States Senate awards program at the University of Maryland. She received a B.A. in psychology and master’s in library science from the University of Maryland.

Rusty Taylor

Rusty Taylor, Shop Foreman

Rusty Taylor has served the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) as shop foreman for six years. He brings 35 years of manufacturing and parts-making experience to the position. Day to day, Rusty helps students and designers build and manage projects, turning their ideas into reality.

Student Research Assistants


Ljilja Ruzic Kascak

Ljilja Ruzic Kascak is a Ph.D. student at the School of Industrial Design at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her current research interests include user experience (UX) research, accessibility, universal design (UD), design for aging, design guidelines, and industrial design, with a particular interest on mobile health technologies. At the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA), Ljilja works as a graduate research assistant on universal design of mobile health technologies for people aging with multiple sclerosis. Her research also includes work on a universally designed voting interface for older adults and people with vision, cognition, and dexterity limitations.


Yilin “Elaine” Liu

Yilin "Elaine" Liu is a Ph.D. student in the School of Industrial Design at Georgia Institute of Technology and a graduate research assistant at CATEA. Her research focuses include universal design, design for context, and design for ubiquitous computing technologies (e.g. mobile technologies and environmental sensing technologies). Her current project investigates the needs of users with different abilities under different time pressure while navigating at airports and proposes recommendations for designing universal mobile guide applications for indoor navigation by users with different abilities. She is currently developing a universally designed airport guide system as a case study to reflect the findings in her research. Her work pushes the boundary of accessibility toward mainstream products.


Mary Kathleen Whitney

M. Kate Whitney is a Ph.D. student at the School of Industrial Design at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her current research interests include interaction design, user experience (UX), universal design (UD), design for aging, interactive digital media, telehealth design, and industrial design. At the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access, Kate works as a graduate research assistant, contributing to the forthcoming book: Environmental modifications to facilitate ADL performance of older adults: a review of the evidence base across residential settings. Her research also includes work on a universally designed, farmers' market mobile application for older adults.


Yousef Busheri

Yousef Bushehri is a Ph.D. student in the School of Industrial Design at Georgia Institute of Technology. His current research interests include quantifying usability within the context of the built environment, the impact of design on aging and human health, and how architectural design positively and negatively impacts psychological and physiological health. Previously, Yousef has practiced as an architect in Kuwait, participated as a resident artist at Google Paris, and has worked with students on the graduate and undergraduate level at Georgia Tech teaching architecture and graphic design. At CATEA, he works as a graduate research assistant gathering the evidence that exists on home modification in older adult housing. Yousef completed his B.S. Arch and M.Arch at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., and his M.S. Arch at Georgia Tech.

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