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Karen Marais Expertise

Dr. Karen Marais' research focuses on developing ways to deliver value through reliability, safety, and sustainability. On the theme of reliability, she is interested in how decisions about reliability and maintenance affect the value delivered by systems. She has shown, for example, that a focus on cost can result in a decrease in value. On the theme of safety, she is interested in how we can design and operate complex systems to work with human nature, rather than attempting to force people to be constantly vigilant and never make mistakes. She is currently extending this safety work to the prevention of other project failures too. Dr. Marais also works on data-driven approaches to improving aviation safety, in particular, on developing ways to use smartphone and other device data to improve General Aviation safety. On sustainability, Dr. Marais' primary focus is on the environmental impacts of aviation. Here, she investigates operational improvements that can reduce aviation emissions. She is the author of several technical publications, including 16 journal papers and two book chapters. She received an NSF CAREER award in 2014.

Dr. Karen Marais has worked in engineering for two decades. Dr. Marais holds a B. Eng. in electrical and electronic engineering from the University of Stellenbosch and a B.Sc. in mathematics from the University of South Africa. She also holds a master’s degree in space-based radar from MIT. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT in 2005. Prior to graduate school, she worked in South Africa as an electronic engineer.