Agency veteran brings skillset, drive to convert bold technology visions into new capabilities for nation

Stefanie Tompkins takes the reins today as the 23rd director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

With nearly eleven years of DARPA service under her belt, Tompkins, a former military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, has an exceptional understanding of the agency’s culture. From 2007 through 2017, she held multiple positions, including program manager and deputy director of the Strategic Technology Office, a systems-oriented technical office; DARPA chief of staff; and director of the Defense Sciences Office, a highly exploratory office that identifies and accelerates new technologies. In 2017 and into the beginning of 2018, she served as the acting deputy director of the agency.

“Stefanie is someone who really knows and respects the agency and its importance to our national security,” said Peter Highnam, DARPA’s current acting director, who will continue to serve the agency as its deputy director.

Tompkins, since February 2018, has been the vice president for research and technology transfer at Colorado School of Mines, a job that marked a return of sorts to her roots as a geologist while drawing on her skill set for turning technological possibilities into technological realities. Thematic throughout Tompkins’ professional life has been her ability to inspire creative scientists and engineers to develop new capabilities. She began her industry career as a senior scientist and later in leadership roles at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), where for a decade she conducted and managed research projects in a variety of fields, including her own specialty, imaging spectroscopy.

“I am honored and thrilled to return to DARPA, where breakthrough technologies are a near-daily occurrence. Such breakthroughs could not be more consequential for our national security, economic competitiveness, and our personal lives,” Tompkins said.

Tompkins received a Bachelor of Arts degree in geology and geophysics from Princeton University and Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in geology from Brown University.