IARPA Director Visits Brown University

IARPA Director Visits Brown University


By Annika Moody, ODNI Office of Strategic Communications


Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity Director, Dr. Catherine Marsh, recently returned to her alma mater, Brown University, to visit with students and faculty, Oct. 18.


During the visit, Marsh learned about Brown’s research initiatives, shared information on IARPA’s current programs and worked to facilitate future partnerships.


“I was impressed with the knowledge and enthusiasm of the students while we discussed a range of topics from battery production to climate change to quantum computing - all of which are extremely important today and will be for the foreseeable future,” said Marsh.


IARPA, an organization within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, invests in high-risk/high-payoff research programs to tackle challenges in the Intelligence Community that have the potential to provide the nation with an overwhelming intelligence advantage.


"Our future success at IARPA is contingent upon how effectively we engage today with academia,” said Marsh. “For us to hire tomorrow's Program Managers and future leaders we must not only encourage interest in STEM education programs, but also promote the exciting opportunities that come with it and provide examples of the impact they can make.”


Marsh was joined by IARPA Program Manager Dr. Dawson Cagle, who is leading programs focused on reliable energy sources and weaving technology into textiles called Robust Energy Sources for Intelligence Logistics in Extreme Novel and Challenging Environments (RESILIENCE) and Smart Electrically Powered and Networked Textile Systems (SMART ePants).


The visit was kicked off by Brown’s Vice-President for Research, Jill Pipher, who introduced Marsh and Cagle to members of the faculty which then lead to discussions on batteries and energy, climate change, synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.


Marsh, who holds a B.S. and Ph.D. in inorganic and analytical chemistry from Brown, spent much of her time in Brown’s Department of Chemistry and was excited to revisit her roots with a tour by chemistry graduate students, Cooro Harris and Stephen Kocheril, who showed updates to the lab and discussed their current research.


“In my role as an alum and as a current leader in government, I hope I can positively influence the students and empower them in any way to become successful future leaders,” said Marsh.



After the tour, Marsh interacted with students in a one-on-one setting during lunch. The topics of discussion included IARPA, her career path, and how the IC works to maximize information sharing while protecting national security.




Marsh ended the day by giving a seminar to around 100 students and faculty on what IARPA is, its programs, and ways that they can become program managers.


Marsh fielded questions ranging from current IARPA programs, future research projects, and how academic institutions can be a part of them now.


“Through high-risk, high-payoff research programs that IARPA introduces, we are helping to aid the Intelligence Community mission, and with that, we are playing a part in keeping our nation safe,” said Marsh. “We hope that is a compelling reason to come join us."


This academic engagement allowed for both IARPA leadership and Brown students and faculty to understand current trends in the field, emerging challenges, and the applicability of their research.


Learn more about IARPA’s mission here: IARPA Mission - YouTube