Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Appointed by Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates, and announced by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Zachary Lemnios, Dr. Regina E. Dugan was sworn in as the 19th director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on July 20, 2009.

Founded in 1958 as a response to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik, DARPA’s mission is to prevent and create strategic surprise. From its founding more than 50 years ago to current day, this mission implies one imperative for the Agency: radical innovation for national security. Today, DARPA is the principal agency within the Department of Defense for research, development, and demonstration of high-risk, high-payoff projects for the current and future combat force.

Experienced in counterterrorism and defense against explosive threats, Dr. Dugan first served the Nation as a DARPA program manager from 1996 to 2000. She directed a diverse $100 million portfolio of programs including the Dog’s Nose program, which focused on the development of an advanced, field-portable system for detecting the explosive content of land mines. In 1999, Dr. Dugan was named DARPA Program Manager of the Year, and, in 2000, she was awarded the prestigious Bronze deFleury medal by the Army Engineer Regiment. Other recognition includes the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Exceptional Service and the Award for Outstanding Achievement.

Dr. Dugan’s contributions to the United States military are numerous. She led a counterterrorism task force for the Deputy Secretary of Defense in 1999 and, from 2001 to 2003, she served as a special advisor to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, completing a Quick Reaction Study on Countermine for Enduring Freedom. The results of this study were subsequently briefed to joint senior military leadership and implemented in the field.

Prior to her appointment as Director of DARPA, Dr. Dugan co-founded Dugan Ventures, a niche investment firm, where she served as President and CEO. In 2005, Dugan Ventures founded RedXDefense, LLC, a privately held company devoted to innovative solutions for combating explosive threats, where she also served as President and CEO.

Widely recognized for her leadership in technology development, Dr. Dugan has appeared on CNN, the Discovery Channel, National Public Radio, and The AAAS Science Report; has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Prism, Forbes and Science News, among othersand has delivered keynote remarks at events as diverse as All Things Digital (D9), FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit, e.g., AIA Board of Governor’s meeting, Defense Manufacturing Conference, and SPIE Defense, Security, and SensingIn 2011, she was named a Tech Titan by Washingtonian Magazine. Dr. Dugan previously participated in wideranging studies for the Defense Science Board, Army Science Board, National Research Council, and the Science Foundation, and sat on the Naval Research Advisory Committee and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Technology Panel.

Dr. Dugan obtained her doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology, her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Virginia Tech, and in 2011 was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science from California State University, Fullerton, only the 16th such honorary degree given since the university’s founding in 1957. She is the sole inventor or co-inventor on multiple patents and patents pending.


Dr. Dugan is the co-author of Engineering Thermodynamics, 1996. She is the first female director of DARPA.