Kara Latorella, PhD '97

Human Factors Engineer, NASA Langley Research Center

Kara Latorella is a Human Factors Engineer at NASA Langley Research Center. She began her career at NASA Langley when she was a graduate student in UB’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, when she received a NASA Graduate Student Research Fellowship award to conduct her dissertation, “Investigating Interruptions: Implications for Flight deck Performance.” She was awarded the Stanley Roscoe award for best Human Factors dissertation from the Aerospace Human Factors Association for this work. Following this, she received a National Research Council Post-Doc to investigate the extension of human performance modeling toward flight deck interface design.

After earning her PhD from UB in 1997, she began her aerospace human factors civil servant career in Langley’s Aeronautics Research division. Work topics included research into cockpit procedures, presentation of aviation weather information, aircraft spacing for efficient operations, improved runway management and future blank slate flight deck designs.

In 2015, she transitioned to support NASA’s Human Mission to Mars in the Space Mission Analysis Branch. In this capacity, she supports development of the Exploration Medical Capability – to ensure that Mars astronauts maintain good health; habitat design for this mission; and integration of geospatial data to support mission decisions such as selecting the first human mission landing site on Mars.

She is a full member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and Sigma Xi.

She received her BS degree from Cornell University in 1987, in an individually-designed curriculum for human factors engineering; and an MS degree in industrial engineering in 1989 from The Pennsylvania State University, also with a focus on human factors.