Regina Dugan will become the first woman to head the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in its 51-year history, the Department of Defense announced today. Dugan takes the reins from acting director, Robert Leheny, who has been running the agency since Tony Tether stepped down in February 2009.
From the official press release:
“Regina Dugan is precisely the dynamic leader DARPA needs to open new technology frontiers and transition revolutionary technologies to serve our nations interests,” said Zachary J. Lemnios, director, Defense Research and Engineering. “I am delighted she will be leading this agency and look forward to working closely with her.”
Prior to this appointment, Dugan held several key positions in industry, most recently as president and chief executive officer of RedXDefense, LLC, which she co-founded in 2005, a company that develops defense against explosive threats. She has also served in senior executive positions in several additional companies in roles ranging from global sales and marketing to research and product development.
During her first tour at DARPA from January 1996 to May 2000, Dugan received the program manager of the year award for her leadership of the “Dogs Nose Program”, which was focused on the development of an advanced, field-portable system for detecting the explosive content of land mines. She is also the recipient of the deFleury Medal, the office of the secretary of defense award for exceptional service, and the award for outstanding achievement. She has participated in wide-ranging studies for the Defense Science Board, the Army Science Board, the National Research Council and Science Foundation, and currently sits on the Naval Research Advisory Committee and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Science and Technology Panel.
While Tether’s tenure with DARPA was the longest of any DARPA director, it also caused strain between the agency and the university research community — particularly the university computing research community — who felt that under his leadership, DARPA adopted policies that discouraged university participation in defense-related research. This blog has spilled a considerable number of electrons making that case as well. With the appointment of Dugan (and with someone familiar with the computing community in Lemnios as Director Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E)) it’s fair to say the community is optimistic some of those incredibly productive ties between university researchers and the agency will get restored. We’ll let you know how it progresses!