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DS&T IC Post Doctoral Program

Research Fellows Bring Extraordinary Ideas to the CIA

Just over a decade ago, the Central Intelligence Agency launched a program to mentor the next generation of scientists, encouraging them to develop the innovations needed to address future challenges.   The program is now funded by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and over its lifetime has supported more than 200 postdoctoral fellows from colleges, universities and other research institutions throughout the United States whose research has applications to the Intelligence Community (IC).  The program, called the IC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program, fosters a three-way partnership between a researcher and principal investigator working in academia or a national lab, and a senior scientist in the IC. Over the past 10 years, this creative partnership has generated remarkable success.


How Freedom Fosters an Imaginative Engine

Many researchers across the United States express a genuine interest in national security problems, and want to contribute to keeping our country safe.  This program provides an opportunity for qualified U.S. citizens to fulfill this desire. Over a two-year period, the fellows work full-time—conducting experiments, publishing their work, and attending annual colloquia—on research topics that ultimately contribute to the national security mission.

One of the cornerstones of the program’s success is freedom:  the freedom for fellows to choose their own research path, to discover new outcomes, and to pursue new ideas.  In the end, some ideas successfully transition into programs that bring new capabilities to the IC.   Even the projects that don’t work as planned often serve as a catalyst for new ideas.


Connecting the Experts Sparks Innovation

In the program, principal investigators oversee research and serve as mentors to the fellows.  IC advisors oversee the direction and outcomes of the research, and facilitate publication in journals and presentations at an annual colloquium.  By establishing contacts with other researchers and members of the IC, the program helps the fellows build relationships that last for years to come.   This kind of collaboration often yields professional growth, important innovations, and personal rewards.

Since its creation the program has funded a diverse range of efforts, including work on simulating terrorist events, speech processing, target detection and characterization, advanced imagery, new power sources, and invisibility.

At Duke University, 2004 IC Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Davig Schurig created the world’s first metamaterial cloaking device, which bends light around an object in such a way as to render the object invisible.  His work has been featured in Physics Today and Science magazines.  In 2010, the program awarded Dr. Schurig, now at North Carolina State University, the Young Investigator Award for his proposal related to extending his discovery to omnidirectional cloaking, and which could lead to substantial improvements in optical image resolution.   A senior scientist in the IC noted, “This new approach holds the promise of revolutionizing the development of imaging devices … and can potentially be of the utmost value to the Intelligence and Defense communities because of its impact on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications, and sensors.”

Dr. Schurig is just one of the many fellows whose research over the past decade has helped, and will continue to help, the IC deliver technology of extraordinary value.   To learn more about the IC Postdoctoral Program and its opportunities, visit [external link disclaimer].


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Posted: Mar 18, 2011 08:51 AM
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2013 12:51 PM