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Laura McNamara

Laura McNamara
Principal Member of Technical Staff

Contact Information:

P. O. Box 5800
Albuquerque, NM 87185-0370
(505) 844-1366
(505) 284-0154 fax


Laura McNamara is a Principal Member of Technical Staff in the Exploratory Simulation Technologies Organization at Sandia National Laboratories. Trained in cultural anthropology, McNamara conducts field studies in national security environments to assess barriers and opportunities for new technology development and adoption. She has worked with nuclear weapon experts, intelligence analysts, and cybersecurity experts, focusing on issues of expert knowledge elicitation and representation, verification and validation in computational social science, uncertainty quantification, user centered design strategies, innovation adoption, and software evaluation. As the Human Factors team lead for Sandia's Networks Grand Challenge, she is currently working on evaluation strategies to determine how novel information visualization techniques impact knowledge production in intelligence organizations. McNamara is a Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology and was recently appointed to a second term on the American Anthropological Association's Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the U.S. Security and Intelligence Communities.

McNamara received her PhD in Cultural Anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 2001, with a dissertation on the problem of knowledge loss in the post-Cold War nuclear weapons programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). After completing her doctorate, she spent three years as a staff member in LANL's Statistical Sciences Group before moving to Sandia in 2004.

As an organizational anthropologist, McNamara conducts field studies with groups that are attempting to develop and/or integrate modeling and simulation tools into their work processes. She has worked with the Missile Defense Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the nuclear weapons programs at Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories to identify both the limitations of, and leverage points for, the effective use of modeling and simulation technologies in interdisciplinary research and development projects. Her research interests include expert knowledge elicitation, knowledge representation, distributed cognition, collaboration, uncertainty quantification, and verification and validation for social and behavioral modeling and simulation technologies. In addition, Dr. McNamara is a member of Sandia's Human Studies Board.

McNamara lives on five acres in east central New Mexico with her husband, Paul Johnson, four German shepherds, and four llamas.

Professional Information

Updated: 3/26/2009

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