38 episodes

DARPA’s podcast series, "Voices from DARPA," offers a revealing and informative window on the minds of the Agency's program managers. In each episode, a program manager from one of DARPA’s six technical offices—Biological Technologies, Defense Sciences, Information Innovation, Microsystems Technology, Strategic Technology, and Tactical Technology—will discuss in informal and personal terms why they are at DARPA and what they are up to. The goal of "Voices from DARPA" is to share with listeners some of the institutional know-how, vision, process, and history that together make the “secret sauce” DARPA has been adding to the Nation’s innovation ecosystem for nearly 60 years. On another level, we at DARPA just wanted to share the pleasure we all have every day—in the elevator, in the halls, in our meeting rooms—as we learn from each other and swap ideas and strive to change what’s possible.

Voices from DARPA DARPA

    • Technology
    • 4.8, 55 Ratings

DARPA’s podcast series, "Voices from DARPA," offers a revealing and informative window on the minds of the Agency's program managers. In each episode, a program manager from one of DARPA’s six technical offices—Biological Technologies, Defense Sciences, Information Innovation, Microsystems Technology, Strategic Technology, and Tactical Technology—will discuss in informal and personal terms why they are at DARPA and what they are up to. The goal of "Voices from DARPA" is to share with listeners some of the institutional know-how, vision, process, and history that together make the “secret sauce” DARPA has been adding to the Nation’s innovation ecosystem for nearly 60 years. On another level, we at DARPA just wanted to share the pleasure we all have every day—in the elevator, in the halls, in our meeting rooms—as we learn from each other and swap ideas and strive to change what’s possible.

    Episode 30: The Sensor Sorcerer

    Episode 30: The Sensor Sorcerer

     
    In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Dr. John Burke, a program manager since 2017 in the agency’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO), goes deep, quantum-mechanics deep. The miniaturized, affordable, and ultrastable atomic clocks he hopes to make possible would kick in if the GPS system were to go down due to natural or adversarial actions. Such clocks could keep the military machine viable while also preserving or even enhancing the operation of civilian must-haves ranging from financial transactions to ridesharing (think Uber and Lyft). Burke has teams of researchers pursuing magnificently sensitive magnetometers for detecting objects, materials, and activities otherwise hidden underground, underwater, or behind bone. Among these sensors’ potential applications is real-time, in-field diagnostics and monitoring of concussions, whether in battlefield or sports field settings. These and other sensing capabilities Burke is fostering are based largely on the quantum-mechanical ways that atoms behave (e.g., the nuclear oscillations that serve at the invariant ticks of atomic clocks) or respond to signals in the world (e.g., faint magnetic fields from brains or buried ordnance). The overall goal of this quantum-mechanical finessing, Burke says, is to “peer around the curtain to see more and more of everything around us.”
     

    • 34 min
    The Light and Matter Maestro

    The Light and Matter Maestro

     
    In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Dr. Michael Fiddy, a program manager since 2016 in the agency’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO), takes listeners on a whirlwind tour of his programs. They all share a common thread, which stems from Fiddy's lifelong interest in how light — electromagnetic (EM) energy, more generally — interacts with matter. At DARPA, he has expressed that interest by challenging researchers to investigate whether cells interact with one another via EM signals; how it might be possible to use low-frequency EM radiation to see through just about anything (including metal); and how precisely engineered surfaces might tap into quantum mechanical phenomena (Casimir forces) in the vacuum of space in a quest for fuel-less propulsion technology. As Fiddy points out in the podcast, “We have been doing science for a few hundred years and there still is an awful lot that we don’t know.”
     

    • 32 min
    Episode 28: Swarm Commander

    Episode 28: Swarm Commander

     
    In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Dr. Timothy Chung, a program manager since 2016 in the agency's Tactical Technology Office, delves into his robotics and autonomous technology programs – the Subterranean (SubT) Challenge and OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET). From robot soccer to live-fly experimentation programs involving dozens of unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), he explains how he aims to assist humans heading into unknown environments via advances in collaborative autonomy and robotics.
    The SubT Challenge focuses on the underground – human-made tunnels, the urban underground, and natural cave networks. Teams from around the world vie for prizes via Systems (physical) and Virtual competitions, with air and ground platforms attempting to rapidly map, navigate, and search the subterranean domain.The OFFSET program envisions small-unit infantry forces seamlessly teaming with swarms of even hundreds of (UASs) and/or small unmanned ground systems. The program combines emerging technologies in swarm autonomy and human-swarm teaming.
    Chung shares how he learned to see things not as impossible, but rather un-possible because, “it's not that it can't be done. It just hasn't been done yet.”
     

    • 32 min
    Episode 27: Detecting Threats with Time to Act

    Episode 27: Detecting Threats with Time to Act

     
    In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Mark Wrobel, a program manager since 2019 in the agency’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO), chronicles progress in the SIGMA+ program and its potential near-term relevance to monitoring the environment for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The now-completed predecessor program, SIGMA, delivered a sensor and analysis system for detecting imminent nuclear and radiological threats in complex settings like cities, stadiums, and travel hubs. That system has been transitioning into deployments. The charge of the SIGMA+ program is to expand the threat-detection system’s abilities to include an extensive range of chemical, explosive, and biological agents. To avoid costly false alarms and potentially lethal false negatives (missed detections), the technology must be able to reliably discern actual threats from the myriad benign nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological signals that typically are present in any given location. As Wrobel puts it, “We are trying to move detection to the left of boom.”
     

    Episode 26: The Eclectic Biotechnician

    Episode 26: The Eclectic Biotechnician

     
    In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Eric Van Gieson, a program manager since 2017 in the agency’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO), recounts how a boyhood fascination with DARPA ultimately led to his current role overseeing a portfolio of envelope-pushing programs. These include a program that seeks new diagnostic tools for perhaps the earliest-possible detection of exposure to pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; an effort to identify and leverage the biomolecular bases underlying optimal performance in such roles as piloting aircraft and participating in special forces missions; research toward new personal-protection technologies that combine advanced featherweight fabrics with designed, bio-based agents applied directly to the body where they can neutralize injurious chemical and biological agents before they can do damage; and a bold biomedical strategy that stands a chance of replacing some medicine-based treatments (for conditions ranging from irritable bowel syndrome to post-traumatic stress disorder) with treatments based on the electrical stimulation of the peripheral nervous system, particularly the far-reaching vagus nerve.
     

    New Molecular Tactics for Pandemic Times

    New Molecular Tactics for Pandemic Times

     
    In this episode of Voices from DARPA, we turn again to Dr. Anne Fischer (https://www.darpa.mil/staff/dr-anne-fischer), a program manager since 2017 in the agency’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO), this time to learn how she has been swerving two of her programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those programs, Accelerating Molecular Discovery (AMD) (https://www.darpa.mil/program/accelerated-molecular-discovery), centers on developing machine-learning and other computational techniques to dramatically streamline the discovery of molecules with properties relevant to the Department of Defense. Think here of chemical-warfare simulants for research, coatings that protect assets and personnel, specialty fuels, and medicines to counter emerging threats. With an eye on that last one, Dr. Fischer has been swerving some AMD work into an urgent hunt for molecules with previously unrecognized antibiotic properties. One specific target is new treatments for secondary, bacterial lung infections in patients with COVID-19. The other program Dr. Fischer is swerving into the COVID-19 response is Make-It (https://www.darpa.mil/program/make-it). The program’s envisioned deliverables for the DoD include tabletop chemical-synthesis systems that can produce chemicals when and where they are needed. Think here of the ability to quickly synthesize pharmaceuticals in a battlefield setting. Think here also of a chemical-synthesis channel independent of globalized supply chains that can become compromised. Now, this capability for on-demand synthesis of chemical products, including antivirals and reagents for diagnostic tests, is revealing Make-It technology as a promising component of our ability to respond to emergencies such as outbreaks of infectious diseases.
    For a previous discussion with Dr. Fischer about her background, interests, and long-term goals for the programs she manages, please listen to Episode 22, titled The Chemquistador.
     
     

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
55 Ratings

55 Ratings

SAARKÉSH ,

PR or Progress?

This was a huge relief but then the next natural question is: Why did we have to resort to a total life-freeze and so unprepared for these events at every systematic level? Where is this knowledge and experience propagated to if not the Homeland Security, CDC, etc...
At the minimum, the readiness of the Healthcare delivery industry & adequate training of the Healthcare staff should have been achieved by now.
Please keep up the great work & THANK YOU.

capricornslooktothestars ,

Perspective

DARPA is so cutting-edge and I would love to hear more podcasts from these incredible individuals;project managers leading the future. I have no idea if we’ll get anymore podcasts, but to the individual who made these interviews possible I truly appreciate your effort into making these idea public. And thanks to the host who in my opinion has always done a fantastic job electrifying the topics into the truly captivating concepts that are leading our future today.

Provenroi ,

DARPA team - what happened to the rest of the show? Let’s make some new episodes

G

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