NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Rivera To Give ‘Mind the Gap’ Webinar, Sept. 30

Dr. Daniel E. Rivera
Dr. Daniel E. Rivera

The NIH Office of Disease Prevention will host a Methods: Mind the Gap webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. Dr. Daniel E. Rivera will discuss optimizing behavioral mobile health (mHealth) interventions using control systems engineering. The presentation will build on aspects of the June 2019 webinar, “Using Control Systems Engineering to Optimize Adaptive Mobile Health Interventions.” 

Control systems engineering is a broadly applicable field that considers how to adjust system variables over time to improve targeted outcomes. It is responsible for diverse consumer products such as cruise control, the home thermostat and the artificial pancreas. It is receiving increasing attention in mHealth as a means to design and optimize behavioral interventions for physical activity, smoking cessation and obesity. 

The talk will establish the relevance of control engineering to mHealth using two interventions currently under development—Just Walk, to promote walking in sedentary adults, and Healthy Mom Zone, for managing gestational weight gain in overweight/obese pregnant women. Both interventions are predicated on a novel experimental design known as the Control Optimization Trial, which takes advantage of a priori information available to the user to facilitate modeling (accomplished via system identification) and integrates it with controller design. Rivera will discuss his experience in advancing these concepts within a team science environment as well as the contrast between control systems engineering and machine learning approaches, such as reinforcement learning.

A professor of chemical engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy at Arizona State University, Rivera received a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from University of Rochester, an M.S. degree in chemical engineering from University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from California Institute of Technology. His research interests span the topics of dynamic modeling using system identification, robust process control and applications of control engineering to problems in supply chain management and behavioral medicine. In 2007, he received a Mentored Quantitative Research Career Development Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to examine how dynamical systems and control engineering approaches can be used to optimize interventions for the prevention and treatment of drug abuse. 

Registration is required; visit The webinar will be recorded and available on the ODP website within approximately 1 week. 

The webinar series explores research design, measurement, intervention, data analysis and other methods of interest in prevention science. For more information, visit  

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