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New Force Behind Agency of Wonder

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DARPA director Regina Dugan

Regina Dugan has long had a reputation as a scientist who likes to roll up her sleeves and get directly involved in problems.

Credit: Michael Temchine / The New York Times

Under the helm of director Regina Dugan, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is engaged in projects that involve creative thinking. One such project was the DARPA Network Challenge, a contest in which participants were tasked with pinpointing 10 large red balloons hidden throughout the United States using social networking, with implications for intelligence gathering. Other areas DARPA is concentrating on under Dugan's leadership include cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, biological sensors, and rapid vaccine development.

Dugan's job is to coordinate the military, contractors, and universities' efforts to produce scientific and technological breakthroughs organized around a set of ideas, and strike a balance between civilian and military discoveries.

Soon after her appointment in 2009, Dugan visited leading U.S. universities to try to mend the rift between DARPA and academia during her predecessor's tenure. She has an agenda to breathe new life into DARPA and is attracting top talent to posts within her organization by offering opportunities to contribute to the invention of transformative technologies. Among Dugan's contributions to DARPA so far is the establishment of the Transformational Convergence Technology Office, which focuses on technologies that include machine intelligence, social networks, and synthetic biology.

From The New York Times
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