DARPA Seeks Junior Faculty Innovators

Securing research funding can be a challenge for tenure-track faculty with cutting-edge ideas but few connections. Those ideas may be the breakthroughs needed to advance critical science and technologies in support of the Defense mission. For the sixth year, DARPA will invest in the next generation of rising academic stars through its Young Faculty Award (YFA) Research Announcement.

Published on Grants.gov (RA-12-12), the YFA research announcement seeks research proposals in many areas such as physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, medicine biology and social science, and new areas including, neuroscience and brain-machine interface, strongly correlated materials, predictive materials science, and new engineered materials.

YFA applicants are required to be within five years of appointment to a tenure-track position at a U.S. institution of higher education.  To increase participation and ensure that the best and brightest are eligible, regardless of national origin, in 2010 eligibility requirements for applicants were amended to include non-U.S. citizens. Selected recipients receive a 24-month grant consisting of a 1-year base period and another year option period, with a maximum funding level of $150,000 per year.

More than just a budget item or a program, DARPA’s true investment with Young Faculty Awards is in people.  In 2010, DARPA made 33 YFA awards, which have led to continuing research opportunities for 15 postdoctoral fellows, 28 graduate and 13 undergraduate students.  Since receiving their awards this class has been hard at work, filing 16 patents to date, and publishing 97 papers, with another 58 in review.

“The goal of DARPA’s Young Faculty Award program is not only to provide funding for young faculty researchers, but also to inspire them to serve their country by contributing their talents to help solve some of the most challenging problems of our time from vaccine production to cyber security,” said DARPA Director, Regina E. Dugan.

Jay Schnitzer, office director, DARPA Defense Sciences Office added, “DARPA recognizes the real need to provide research support for our most talented young scientists at a crucial phase in their career while enabling them to address riskier, more difficult research problems than they might otherwise be able to do.”

To date, YFA has provided funding nationwide to 168 recipients. DARPA uses the program to help identify outstanding junior faculty members and expose them to the DoD, its needs and DARPA’s program development process.  It combines funding, mentoring and networking early in faculty careers to help frame future research in the context of national defense.

For more information, visit: www.grants.gov/search/search.do?oppId=132953&mode=VIEW

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