Back to Officials


Name: Dugan, Regina
Current Position: Former Director

Sworn in on July 20, 2009, Regina Elvira Dugan is the first female director to lead the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the military’s secretive, high-tech operation responsible for inventing the forerunner to the Internet (ARPAnet) and the technology behind the stealth fighter, unmanned drone aircraft, global positioning satellites and the M16 rifle.

On January 27, 2010, DARPA awarded a $400,000 research contract to RedXDefense, a company created by Dugan. In August 2010, RedXDefense received another contract from DARPA, an extension of the January one, this time in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security.
Born March 19, 1963, Dugan obtained her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in mechanical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1984 and 1985 respectively, and her doctorate degree in mechanical engineering in 1993 from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). She was co-chairwoman of the Organization for Women at Caltech, an institution where 80% of graduate students were men.
She worked as a researcher at the Institute for Defense Analyses for three years, before joining DARPA for the first time in 1996 as a program manager during the Bill Clinton administration. She oversaw a $100 million portfolio of programs including the “Dog’s Nose” project, which focused on developing an advanced detection system for land mines that was based on chemically detecting buried explosives rather than detecting their forms. As the leader of the Unexploded Ordnance Detection program, she developed a technical approach to help U.S. Marines storm a mine-infested beach. During her first stint with DARPA, she also led a counterterrorism task force for the Deputy Secretary of Defense in 1999.
After leaving the agency in 2000, Dugan served as a special advisor to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, completing a “Quick Reaction Study on Countermine for Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan (2001-2003).
She co-founded Dugan Ventures, an investment firm, with her father Vince Dugan, and his twin brother John Dugan, and she served as the company’s president and CEO. According to her official biography, Regina Dugan “served in senior executive positions in three companies with responsibilities ranging from the development of strategic business relationships, legal and financial matters, as well as the building of a direct sales, marketing, and distribution capability throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. During her tenure in these companies, Dr. Dugan was responsible for approximately $35M in fundraising and business development activities.”
Building on her DARPA experience involving land mines, in 2005 Dugan, her father and her uncle used their firm to found RedXDefense, a company specializing in technology for screening humans, vehicles and packages for explosive threats. Again, Regina Dugan served as president and CEO.
In a March 2010 appearance before the House Armed Service Committee’s subcommittee on terrorism, unconventional threats and capabilities, Dugan outlined her vision for DARPA’s research goals, which includes everything from plant-based vaccines to biomimetics (using biological systems as the models for technological solutions). She used her time before lawmakers to make the point that the U.S. needs to invest more in higher education and industry to develop an “elite army of futuristic technogeeks.”
Dr. Dugan has conducted studies for the Defense Science Board, the Army Science Board and the National Research Council.
Dugan has applied for and received numerous patents, either alone or with others.
For example, her first patent, issued in 1989, was for a system for venting gas from a liquid storage tank.  In 2009, Dugan was granted a patent for a mobile device to be carried by dogs to detect explosives, That same year, she and others at RedXDefense were granted patents for a security system that tracks visitors at amusement parks and other multiple-entry public venues and for threat screening systems that include sample collectors and analyzers. In 2006, Dugan and others at RedXDefense applied for a patent for an interactive security screening system. They were granted the patent on January 4, 2011.
She co-authored the book Engineering Thermodynamics (1995).
Official Biography (DARPA) (pdf)
Statement by Dr. Regina E. Dugan (Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, House Armed Services Committee) (pdf)
New Force Behind Agency of Wonder (by John Markoff, New York Times)
Bookmark and Share