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Elite Group of Young Scientists Embark on DARPA Research Efforts

Posted August 28, 2013

A group of early-career scientists at research universities have received grants totaling more than $12 million for basic research to address some of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) most challenging technological hurdles. From 226 applicants, 25 tenure-track faculty members were selected to receive up to $1 million each over the course of three years.

The technology areas they will investigate align with DARPA’s future program directions and were chosen with the ultimate goal of going beyond current research and providing new paths forward to realize tomorrow’s national security capabilities.

The long-term goal of the DARPA Young Faculty Award (YFA) program is to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers who will focus their careers and research on DoD and national security issues. DARPA hopes the 25 recipients selected for 2013 will help accelerate DARPA program research while providing new ideas and a fresh perspective. Over the course of two years in the YFA program (three years, if selected for the Director’s Fellowship), recipients will gain enhanced awareness of DoD issues and research through a variety of activities—allowing them to heighten their colleagues’ understanding as well.

To aid their research, YFA recipients receive two years of funding at $250,000 each year. Of the entire 2013 YFA class, four of the most promising recipients will be selected for a third year supported by $500,000 each in funding. Each recipient will be assigned a DARPA program manager with closely aligned research interests. Program managers will work closely with the recipient as a mentor, providing insight into how DARPA works and the research needs of DoD.

“DARPA has selected some of the most promising young researchers in the country to participate in the next YFA class,” said Alicia Jackson, DARPA program manager. “We expect the 2013 recipients to hit the ground running on research that matters to DARPA. But, we’re also going to provide a lot of support to help them understand DARPA, our mission,  and the DoD science and technology community.

YFA recipients will have the chance to go on military site visits to meet some of the potential users of their technology. There will be opportunities for networking with their peers, DARPA staff, and other DARPA performers. A YFA recipient who makes the most out of the program will have a solid foundation for a successful career interacting with DARPA and the DoD to solve national security problems.”

DARPA began YFA in 2006 and has since awarded grant money to more than 200 academic rising stars. This year, the scope of the program was focused to ensure researchers are more closely aligned with DARPA’s current research interests. Also new this year is the potential for four recipients to receive a Director’s Fellowship for a third year of research; selected researchers will work with DARPA leadership to apply their work to applicable DoD programs.

Source: DARPA

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