We're a little crazy, about science!

The first DARPA meeting

Not too long ago, I was nominated for the DARPA Risers program and shortly after I was selected as a DARPA Riser. It’s a big deal for me and DARPA has always been a dream of mine. With the conference coming, I still have a lot of work ahead of me to prepare. None of the new data has been processed or analyzed. I don’t know if the technique (my “super secret technique” or SST) works, or if what I found was something erroneous. I have data, I just need time and as of yesterday time is not on my side.

When I first found out about the DARPA Risers program I had heard nothing about it. Google was surprisingly unhelpful. It may as well have been a scam because I found absolutely nothing. I found small announcements from schools for the program right before COVID hit and I found exactly one short video from the conference that barely talked about it. In other words, going in I had no idea what to expect.

As I went through the selection process, more and more information has been shared with me. Basically this program is a way to meet with DARPA program managers and share the stuff we’re doing. It puts us front and center with the people who fund projects. It means that they get to associate a name and face with the research and ideally this leads to collaborations later down the line. I’m very excited to get the chance to meet with everyone, in particular a certain person who helped me about a decade and a half ago (here).

So I’ve been prepping for the conference, which for me is in a few months. Not a lot of time, but enough time for me to have something ready before the deadline, or so I thought. Yesterday I got an email from the person who nominated me, or rather someone who is arranging the meeting for me with the small group of people who want to make sure I succeed and have the best shot I can at getting selected for a short talk. I thought I had roughly three months, that’s not the case.

I’m meeting in roughly one month with them to discuss everything. I’m not sure exactly what they want me to have ready, but I’m assuming it’s my poster and slides (slides are for in case you get selected for the talk portion). Each conference has roughly 30 people selected and 5 of them will be selected to gave a, I want to say 5 minute talk. It may be longer, but I’m pretty sure it’s 5 minutes.

Regardless of selection, which doesn’t happen until the conference, I need to have the poster and talk done before. The deadline is two weeks prior to the conference, so I thought I had time, but now it seems like that won’t be the case. Which means I need to once again hit the ground running. I’m working hard already to finish the data collection, which I’ll post about this weekend, but I’ll have 7 of 10 datasets collected.

I was going to collect all the data and do the analysis, but to put it in hospital-PI’s words, this will have to be a “quick and dirty” analysis. Instead of getting group data, I think I’ll look at anywhere from two to five of the participants and see what we have. I doubt I could process all the data at once and this will make more work for me in the general sense, but at least I’ll know if SST works or if I just got lucky and it only works with specific people, made an error somewhere, or who even knows what.

This news has thrown me into chaos a bit, but it’s also a good push forward in a way. With a little luck and a lot of work, I will have the answer to the question does SST actually work? If it does, then by the end of the year I hope to have some results published and then I can finally talk about it openly. For now, there’s work to be done, so let’s go!

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