Name With The Face: Nabeel Rahal, Semantics Visualization Program Manager, Sandia National Labs

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Name With The Face: Nabeel Raha
Job Title: Semantics Visualization Program Manager
Organization: Sandia National Labs

Job Function: Sandia National Labs, a National Nuclear Security Administration laboratory funded primarily by the NNSA, is involved in a full range of national security research and development projects. The 8,600 people who work at Sandia are "Helping Our Nation Secure a Peaceful and Free World Through Technology." Nabeel Rahal, Sandia's Semantics Visualization program manager, plays a critical role: he deploys unstructured text-tagging and information-visualization tools to identify projects and technologies being worked on at Sandia, because there's no possible way to read the tremendous volume of internal and external information that needs to be analyzed. "The core mission is to identify patterns, trends, and relationships within research and development programs," Rahal says. "The idea is that by using these tools we can see what's going on in the lab."

Rahal's analysis provides a more effective way for Sandia to spend money on R&D efforts, helps innovation by not duplicating work and identifying complimentary technologies, and ensures that Sandia deploys technology to the most effective industry partner. "We spend $100 million a year in lab-directed research and development," Rahal says. "When we know what's going on internally, we can compare that to what's going on in the outside world, and we look for bridges between different technologies. For example, we look at patent information to identify more effective partners for deploying the technology to the business world." Sandia technologies include such gadgets as The Hound—a portable explosives-detection device and a hand-held MicroChemLab that detects chemical, biotoxin, and pathogen signatures.

In A Day's Work: Rahal says he uses 3-D visualization mapping to surface similarities and relationships between documents "that you can fly through, like a visual landscape with hills and valleys." He relies on several econtent products in his work. "With VxInsight we identify patterns and trends, and using ClearForest we identify relationships," he says. "And then we put them together. The idea is that with clustering, using information visualization tools, you see the relationships between documents and easily draw conclusions."

Oddest Encounter: "When working in a lab environment, the oddest encounter is just going to work everyday."

View From The Desk: "I'm in an office on an Air Force Base, and I have three computer monitors."

Outside Interest: "I play the electric guitar." If Not Econtent, Then What?: "I'd definitely be in strategic management."