Laura Maguire

Columbus, OH


I’m an Ohio State University PhD student in Cognitive Systems Engineering who studies cognitive work, coordination and adaptive strategies in high risk/high consequence work.

I’ve worked in domains where things blow up, crash, die, fall over and otherwise wreck havoc for practitioners and the communities they operate in. What amazes me is - when you look at the pressures, constraints, demands and pace of work - why this stuff doesn’t happen more! In my research I’ve discovered people cope with complexity, uncertainty, goal conflicts and competing priorities for their attention and still manage to maintain a high degree of safety and reliability. My work is interested in how we design systems and practices to support this capability.

Lately, I have been focused on understanding sources of resilience and adaptation in the DevOps community watching site reliability engineers respond to system outages. This domain offers valuable insights into cognitively demanding, technology mediated work that has implications for healthcare, aviation, nuclear power and military applications to name a few.

My Talks

Coordination: Important for trapeze artists, critical for DevOps squads.

Mental models – why saying “I didn’t know it worked that way” is a sign of expertise not incompetence.