IMPhD Research Seminar Series: Dr. Laura Bix

Thinking Creatively About Evaluating Interactions Between People and Packaging with the Goal of Improving Health by Laura Bix


Room 408, ComArtSci


I believe that the most impactful, interesting solutions to problems occur at the intersection of art and science. This belief, coupled with the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of packaging, played a major role in my choice to work in this discipline. My passion is to employ a user-centered approach to package design, informed by science, with the goal of improving health outcomes. To make progress in support of this, I have built a multidisciplinary program which leverages insights and methods from cognitive psychology, health risk communication, occupational therapy, biomechanics, ergonomics, nursing, gerontology, pharmacy science and medicine. My efforts generally focus on the healthcare industry, but occasionally investigate issues associated with food and beverages as well.


The world is burdened with healthcare issues that are costly both in financial and human terms. Among them are: medication errors, patient non-adherence/non-compliance, healthcare acquired infections, unintentional poisoning of children due to unsupervised ingestion of medications or household chemicals, and overweight and obese populations. Packaging is not an obvious path to ameliorating the effects of these issues, and very few people in the world have purposefully and thoughtfully used it to do so (to my knowledge, MSU is the only University to have faculty dedicated to medical packaging). The significance of the problems and the novelty of our approach combine to make this a fertile area for inquiry. We have sought to make an impact in the state of Michigan, and the rest of the world, by applying expertise in human factors and medical packaging to enhance health. This is dramatically different from most of the work done in the field, which tends to focus on the ability to efficiently fill, protect and distribute products. Additionally, the limited numbers of human factors experts in packaging tend to focus their efforts on selling products, and those in other disciplines researching health outcomes rarely use packaging as a means for improvement. As such, we are quite unique.  This presentation will provide highlights of the work we have done with the goal of inspiring people to think differently about complex problems.


LauraBix.pngLaura Bix, PhD, is a Professor and the Associate Director of the School of Packaging at Michigan State University and also holds an Adjunct status at Clemson University.  She specializes in healthcare packaging at MSU, where she has been recognized with an Excellence in Teaching Award (2007).  The mission of her research team, the Packaging HUB, is to improve health through packaging.  Dr. Bix has served as the US expert to ISO/TC 122 WG9, a guideline aimed at creating inclusionary packaging, and as the Vice-Chair of ASTM Committee D10.32, the Committee on Consumer, Pharmaceutical and Medical Packaging (2004-2008). In 2008 she was named one of the Medical Device Industry’s most notable people by Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry magazine.  She was named to the PROTECT and PROTECT Rx Panels in 2012; these are two committees tasked by the US CDC to reduce unintentional poisoning of children under five.  She has also served a panel jointly appointed by the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) which examined behaviors related to medication use by older adults.  In 2017 she was asked by the US FDA to serve on expert panels investigating how packaging can be used to combat opiate misuse and abuse.  Her approach to multi-disciplinary endeavors and the value that she places unique collaborations were honored in 2014 with the Phi Kappa Phi Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scholarship Award, and, more recently, her leadership skills were recognized when she was appointed as an academic fellow of the CIC’s Academic Leadership Program.  Work from her group has been published in numerous peer-reviewed outlets, including the PLoS One and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the US.

The IMPhD Research Lecture Series is a speaker series drawn from MSU and other universities whose research is of interest to IMPhD Program faculty and students. Speakers are drawn from a mix of faculty and graduate students who have completed their coursework and are doing independent research.