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William Wang selected for DARPA Risers program, DARPA Forward


On October 4-5, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) partnered with The Ohio State University, one of six universities nationwide, to host the defense research conference DARPA Forward on The Ohio State University campus. The goal of the project is to connect DARPA leaders with new communities of talent and find future big ideas in areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics and biomedical advances that could help propel breakthrough research in the field of national security. The conference series, running from August to December, has been hosted by six universities, with each university hosting a conference locally.

Ohio State's DARPA Forward conference featured two days of presentations and panels by leading researchers, innovators and defense leaders at the Ohio Union.  

Xiaoguang William Wang in black suit
CBE Assistant Professor William Wang

One of the researchers who made a presentation was Xiaoguang (William) Wang, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering in the College of Engineering. Wang was selected for participation in the DARPA Risers program, which focuses on up-and-coming researchers whose work is related to national security and demonstrates the potential to lead to technological breakthroughs.

Under the Risers program, individuals in the early stages of their research careers are recognized for their notable work and present their ideas directly to DARPA.

“I feel honored,” William Wang said. “As a junior faculty member, being selected as a DARPA Riser provides me an opportunity to directly interact with DARPA. My research, to some extent, aligns with some mission of DARPA.”

Wang presented research on the design of nanomaterials for absorption and conversion of radiant energy at a DARPA Risers program. He said it is valuable for the university to host the DARPA Forward conference because of the networking opportunities it offers.

The DARPA Forward conferences offer an opportunity to expand the agency’s reach, support regional and national innovation ecosystems, and boost high-risk, high-reward research.

“The collaborations and partnerships that can be formed at a conference of this caliber are central to the university’s mission as a hub of research and innovation,” said Grace Wang, executive vice president of research, innovation and knowledge. “Our faculty continue to build momentum in discoveries, convergent research and technological breakthroughs that address critical societal and national security challenges.”

DARPA Forward
President Kristina Johnson speaks at the DARPA Forward conference at Ohio Union

“As a new faculty member, the most valuable thing for me is the suggestions that I received from direct communication with DARPA program managers,” William Wang said. “It provided me guidance on how to move forward with approaching DARPA about proposal applications.”

“I think this is truly remarkable what DARPA has done over the years. We’re excited to learn about the new frontiers being explored by the DARPA ecosystem,” said Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson. “At the same time, we’re excited to learn from our own researchers and those from the universities and other affiliations who are here and are pushing boundaries of work. Ohio State is focused on taking a bold and non-incremental approach to some of the world’s most pressing problems.”

Johnson helped open the second day of the conference and pointed out that her research into optical interconnections received DARPA funding. She said the President’s Research Excellence program she established follows a model similar to DARPA’s: providing support for novel, high-risk and high-reward research, as well as funding large cross-disciplinary teams addressing large, complex societal challenges. 

The 60-year-old agency oversees about 250 research and development programs to develop transformative technology related to national security. DARPA’s $4.12 billion budget supports research at companies, universities, the Department of Defense and other labs, and the organization has launched innovations that include stealth technology, voice recognition programs and GPS devices.

based on a story by Chris Booker, Ohio State News

Category: Faculty
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