Dr. Arati Prabhakar
Director, DARPA

Seeing a defense budget that is facing increasing pressure, the head of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will speak about the need to protect research spending and the agency’s role in national security. With a combination of increasing reliance on technology and fiscal pressures facing the US national security apparatus, DARPA’s mission is even more important than ever. DARPA’s efforts to stay on the leading technological edge can create projects that sound more like science fiction than reality, leading to cyclical criticism about the advisability of specific projects from lawmakers. But it can be argued that it’s exactly that approach which differentiates the agency and has made it so successful.

Dr. Arati Prabhakar is the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). She first joined DARPA as a program manager in 1986, and has since then initiated and managed programs in advanced semiconductor technology and flexible manufacturing, as well as demonstration projects to insert new semiconductor technologies into military systems. As the founding director of DARPA’s Microelectronics Technology Office, she led a team of program managers whose efforts spanned these areas, as well as optoelectronics, infrared imaging and nanoelectronics. Dr. Prabhakar was previously appointed director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and has served in recent years on the National Academies’ Science Technology and Economic Policy Board, the College of Engineering Advisory Board at the University of California, Berkeley, and the red team of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Research Council. Dr. Prabhakar received her Doctor of Philosophy in applied physics and Master of Science in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology, and is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a Texas Tech Distinguished Engineer, and a Caltech Distinguished Alumna.