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. Her policy interests include national security, biotechnology, public health, and education. Prior to joining RAND, as a graduate student at the University of Southern California, her doctoral research focused primarily on two topics – studying blast-induced neurotrauma occurring in soldiers as the result of a blast while also designing, building, and validating a malaria diagnostic. She has published and presented her work internationally at conferences hosted by IDEO and the International Society for Optics and Photonics, winning awards for "Most Potential to Change the World" from IDEO Design-A-Thon, Outstanding Oral Presentation from USC, and others. Her recent publication on the malaria diagnostic was highlighted by NPR's All Things Considered with both her and her Ph.D. advisor making appearances on air.

McBirney received her B.S. in bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.S./Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Southern California.

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