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DARPA Risers 2022

Well it’s even more official! I’ve been selected as a 2022 DARPA Riser and I’ve gotten more details on the event. Today I figure it’s a good time to talk about the process as I know it and where we are in that process. Mostly because the internet had very little on the topic and because I am very excited to be part of the selection. I also now can view my fellow DARPA Risers, which has been more than just a little humbling.

Quick recap about me before we dive in! As of this fall we’ll be starting year five of my PhD!! It’s been a journey, which I hope I’ve thoroughly documented here. My field of research is neuroengineering and I have my BS and MS in mechanical engineering. Both engineering fields, two totally different skill sets! I’ve won awards along the way (like the BRAIN award), published a few papers (like my latest I went on about yesterday), and even got a grant award (here). But so far, my most exciting achievement has been the DARPA Risers nomination and selection (first announced here).

Now since the internet has been unhelpful (to say the least), the DARPA Risers program is a way to put students front and center among DARPA project coordinators. It gives people a chance to get to know who you are and put a face to your name. This year there are six different locations for DARPA Forward (the event that this is held under) and my conference location selected 31 students, meaning out of the thousands of eligible students in the area for my conference, I’m one of 31 selected (odd number I know).

Or directly from the website that just went online:

DARPA Risers are up-and-coming standouts in their fields, whose research is related to national security and demonstrates the potential to lead to technological surprise — the heart of DARPA’s mission. The Risers program provides individuals in the early stages of their research career a unique opportunity to be recognized for their notable work and present their ideas directly to DARPA.

For DARPA Forward, DARPA program managers and faculty at universities near each event identified a small group of early career scientists and engineers to join the 2022 DARPA Risers cohort.

An invitation-only DARPA Risers program will take place directly prior to each Forward event.

Now that the 2022 group has been announced I took a moment to see who else was selected and like I said, the selection group is just as amazing at it sounds. Frankly, I’m surprised to count myself among them, but I’m thankful. The few projects I looked up, some of which I was actually familiar with prior, are all cutting edge and super cool. I’m excited to get to see these people in person and watch them present their work (assuming I’ll have time to browse other people’s posters).

My event isn’t for awhile and I plan to attend the others virtually to get an idea of how things work. Since I got out of the service DARPA has been a dream of mine, while I still have mixed feelings about the military, I do think helping veterans and the general public is important. I’m grateful to be selected and I’ll probably be posting more as the event gets closer and more information becomes available.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in attending they have virtual events or in-person for those so inclined (it does cost money to attend in person unfortunately) which you can find here. If you’re interested in checking out all the amazingly talented people who definitely deserve to be there (unlike me, kidding! … maybe…) you can see the list, which just went up recently, here.


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