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Imam assumes leadership role at Missile Defense Agency, will stay on at ORNL

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Neena Imam has assumed the role of Director for the Missile Defense Agency’s Advanced Technology Center. She will serve a two-year term to expire at the end of FY2021.

Imam will remain in her role as distinguished research scientist and deputy director of research collaboration for ORNL’s Computing and Computational Sciences Directorate, where she coordinates efforts between the laboratory and the U.S. Department of Defense. This collaboration addresses topics across the HPC and data analytics spectra such as HPC programming environments, high-speed networking, HPC benchmarks and test suites, HPC resource management, power-aware computing, and high-performance graph analytics.

The MDA is a research, development, and acquisition agency within the Department of Defense tasked with developing, testing, and fielding an integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System to protect the United States. Its Advanced Technology Program Executive Office develops new system concepts and key components to ensure the BMDS keeps pace with the continually evolving ballistic missile threat.

Imam will draw on her previous experience of directing a large and diverse research project to coordinate science and technology development efforts across the Missile Defense Agency and will be responsible for reviewing proposed S&T projects for technical merit, evaluating the progress of S&T projects, and providing independent assessments to MDA leadership.

”The MDA’s mission is critical to America’s security, and the technological challenges presented in fulfilling that mission fall nicely in line with my interests and professional experiences,” she said.

Imam has a broad research portfolio with foci across HPC and data analytics including cryogenic computing, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing.

She holds a Doctoral degree in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, with Master's and Bachelor's degrees in the same field from Case Western Reserve University and California Institute of Technology, respectively. She served as the Science and Technology Fellow for Senator Lamar Alexander in Washington D.C. from 2010-2012.

Her two-year tenure as Senator Alexander’s S&T Fellow provided her with valuable experience in working with the U.S. Congress and various federal agencies. Imam is a senior member of IEEE and served as the Chair of the Region 3 Council (Tennessee) from 2018-2020 and as the Director for the Knoxville chapter from 2009-2010. She holds an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Computer science at Florida State University.

“Neena will be an outstanding asset to the Missile Defense Agency,” said Associate Laboratory Director for Computing and Computational Sciences Jeff Nichols. “She has served in critical roles in numerous priority initiatives at ORNL and her vast knowledge of the computing and data landscapes will be of great value in helping the MDA fulfill its critical mission.”