Samantha McBirney

Photo of Samantha McBirney
Associate Engineer
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, University of Southern Calif; M.S. in biomedical engineering, University of Southern Calif; B.S. in biomechanical engineering, UC Berkeley


Samantha McBirney is an engineer at RAND with a background in biomedical applications, emerging technologies, and laser physics. At RAND, her work has focused on medical readiness, medical logistics, military technology, and drug policy, with interests reaching into national security, biotechnology, and public health. McBirney received her M.S. Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, and her doctoral research focused primarily on two topics – studying blast-induced neurotrauma in soldiers as the result of a blast while also designing, building, and validating a non-invasive optical malaria diagnostic. Her research granted her two fellowships from USC as well as multiple years of funding from the Office of Naval Research. Her work on the malaria diagnostic was highlighted by NPR’s All Things Considered with both her and her Ph.D. advisor making appearances on air, as well as by the MIT Technology Review which listed it as one of the top ten low-tech inventions that changed the world in 2018. McBirney received her B.S. in bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Selected Publications

S.E. McBirney, D. Chen, A. Scholtz, H. Ameri, A.M. Armani, "Rapid Diagnostic for Point-of-Care Malaria Screening," ACS Sensors, 3(7), 2018

S.E. McBirney, K. Trinh, A. Wong-Beringer, A.M. Armani, "Wavelength-normalized spectroscopic analysis of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa growth rates," Biomedical Optics Express, 7(10), 2016