Regina E. Dugan

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Regina E. Dugan
DARPA Director Dr regina dugan.jpeg
Regina E. Dugan, circa. 2010
19th Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
In office
20 July 2009 – March 2012
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byAnthony Tether
Succeeded byArati Prabhakar
Personal details
Regina E. Dugan

(1963-03-19) 19 March 1963 (age 59)
New York City, US
Residence(s)Los Altos, California, US
Alma mater
Scientific career
ThesisAxisymmetric buoyant jets in a cross flow with shear: Transition and mixing (1993)
Doctoral advisorE. John List[1]

Regina E. Dugan (born 19 March 1963), is an American businesswoman, inventor, technology developer and government official. She was the first female director of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where she served from July 2009 until March 2012.

Dugan began working for DARPA in 1996. Over the next 4 years, she led numerous multimillion-dollar research programs. Her most notable research project, known as the 'Dog's Nose,' involved the development of an advanced portable system that could detect the explosive content of landmines. In 1999, she was awarded 'Manager of the Year' for her work at DARPA and in 2000, she was honored with the Bronze de Fleury Medal by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. She has also received awards from the United States Secretary of Defense; specifically, the Awards for Exceptional Service and Outstanding Achievement.[2]

Dugan left DARPA in 2000 to become a special advisor for the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army. Her work included a study titled 'Quick Reaction Study on Countermine,' which was briefed to senior members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and implemented in Operation Enduring Freedom.[3] Dugan also took positions on the Naval Research Advisory Committee, Threat Reduction Agency and Technology panel. Prior to DARPA, she founded a company called Dugan Ventures. In 2005, Dugan Ventures began a new investment, RedXDefense LLC.

After leaving DARPA in March 2012, she was appointed to an executive position at Google. There, she led and created Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) at Motorola Mobility, a subsidiary of Google. In January 2014, it was announced that Motorola Mobility would be acquired by Lenovo. Dugan and her team were retained by Google. She later moved to Facebook, joining a team called Building 8. In October 2017, she announced that she would be leaving in early 2018 to pursue other endeavors.[4][5][6] In May 2020, she was announced as the CEO of Wellcome Leap.[7]


Dugan obtained her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in mechanical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia. In May 2013, she was inducted into the Virginia Tech College of Engineering Academy of Engineering Excellence.[8]

Dugan was awarded a PhD by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Her thesis was titled “Axisymmetric buoyant jets in a cross flow with shear transition and mixing.” [1]

California State University, Fullerton presented Dugan with an honorary degree in 2011.



In April 2016, Dugan left Google to head Facebook's 'Building 8',[9] a research division similar to Google's ATAP group.

In October 2017, Dugan announced she would be leaving Facebook in early 2018 to focus on building and leading a new endeavor.[4]


Dugan's advanced technology group was not a part of the Lenovo acquisition of Motorola Mobility.[10] In February 2014, Dugan rejoined Google as Vice President of Engineering-Advanced Technology and Projects. ATAP developed Project Tango and Project Ara. In December 2018 The Register published an article alleging that her team were responsible for an attempt to patent an idea presented to them earlier by an MIT academic (Ji Qie) and that the subsequent involvement of MIT authorities forced them to back down and drop the application.[11]


Shortly after the Google acquisition of Motorola Mobility closed, Dugan was tasked with creating the Advanced Technology and Projects group, a skunkworks-inspired team chartered to deliver breakthrough innovations for the company. In an interview with the New York Times, Dugan described ATAP as "a small, lean, and agile group that is unafraid of failure," she said, and that it will "celebrate impatience."[12]

While at Motorola, ATAP developed and shipped several products including the Motorola Skip—part of an authentication portfolio that is also exploring digital tattoos and pills[13]—and the augmented reality shorts, Spotlight Stories, which were featured at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It was there that ATAP announced the development of Project Ara, a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones.

Additionally, in an effort to streamline research projects, foster greater collaboration with the university research community, Dugan and her deputy, Dr. Kaigham (Ken) Gabriel, negotiated the Multi-University Research Agreement with, initially, eight leading public and private universities.[14][15]


Experienced in counterterrorism and defense against explosive threats, Dugan first served as a DARPA program manager from 1996 to 2000. During her first DARPA tour, she directed a diverse $100 million portfolio of programs, including the Dog's Nose program, which focused on the development of an advanced, field-portable system for detecting the explosive content of land mines.

From July 2009 to March 2012, Dugan served as the 19th Director of DARPA and was the first woman to lead the Agency. As Director, she advanced strategic initiatives in the fields of cybersecurity, social media, and advanced manufacturing. She also led an active operational deployment in direct support of the war in Afghanistan for which the Agency was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award.


In 2013, Dugan was appointed as the Board of Varian Medical Systems, Inc. (NYSEVAR),[16] and in July 2014 she was appointed as the Board of Zynga (NasdaqZNGA).[17]


  • CNBC NEXT List (2014)[18]
  • Fast Company Most Creative People in Business 1000 (2014)[19]
  • CNN "Top 10 Thinkers" (2013)[20]
  • The Verge 50 (2013)[21]
  • FierceWireless "Influential Women in Wireless" (2013)[22]
  • Virginia Tech Academy of Engineering Excellence (2013)[8]
  • Washingtonian Magazine "Tech Titan" (2011)[23]
  • Joint Meritorious Unit Award by the Secretary of Defense for "outstanding heroism during war"
  • Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Exceptional Service and the Award for Outstanding Achievement
  • Bronze De Fleury Medal by the Army Engineer Regiment (2000)
  • DARPA Program Manager of the Year (1999)


"Disruptive innovation is the kind that unhinges old ways of operating, juices competition and creates new growth. One of the world’s leading experts on the subject is Regina Dugan," wrote Pattie Sellers in her Postcards blog.[24] Dugan has widely spoken and written about DARPA's non-linear style of innovation, which she brought with her to Motorola Mobility and Google.

"Regina does bring in outside perspective specifically related to projects that are leaps, versus incremental steps," Seattle-based wireless analyst Chetan Sharma recently told Technology Review.[25]

In a New York Times article, titled "New Force Behind Agency of Wonder", John Markoff noted that Dugan is "credited with having a knack for inspiring, and indeed insisting on, creative thinking.[26] DARPA is often discussed as a place of innovation, which was addressed during a Washington Post Live summit on U.S. Competitiveness in Washington, D.C. Talking about DARPA's innovation was likened to talking about Picasso's impressionism.[27][28]

Based on their work at DARPA and then Motorola, Dugan and Gabriel co-wrote "Special Forces Innovation" for the Harvard Business Review's October 2013 issue.[29]

Dugan partly attributes DARPA's success to an unwavering dedication to Pasteur's quadrant. The term, coined by political scientist Donald E. Stokes in his 1997 book by the same name, describes innovation that advances basic research and solves practical problems. It is contrasted with Bohr's quadrant, which seeks foundational knowledge about the world without any consideration for practical application and with Edison's quadrant in which purely practical problem solving is attempted.

Other work[edit]

Dugan has delivered several keynote addresses and moderated panel discussions at events as such as:

  • TED[30]
  • All Things Digital D9[31] and D11[32] conferences
  • Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting[33]
  • Clinton Global Initiative America's Meeting
  • EY Strategic Growth Forum
  • FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Summit[34]
  • Qualcomm Uplinq[35]
  • Washington Post Live[36]
  • World Maker Faire[37]

In December 2013, Dugan was appointed to the Board of Directors of Varian Medical Systems, Inc. (VAR).

Potential conflict of interest[edit]

In March 2011, an article in Wired magazine stated that Dugan held stock in RedXDefense, her previous firm. In accordance with DoD policy, Dugan disclosed and recused from matters involving her former firm. A DARPA spokesperson stated that Dugan had no involvement in a 2010 contract award to RedXDefense, and that the contract was vetted by the agency's top lawyer to assure there was no conflict. Subsequently, the LA Times and Wired reported that her company had received around $1.8M in DARPA contracts and that Dugan held a promissory note from RedXDefense in the amount of $250,000.[38] Others have argued that the Wired reporters' accusations are unjustified.[39] In August, 2011, the Inspector General of the Department of Defense(DoD) began an investigation to ensure the procedures had been followed, and to examine DARPA's general policies on conflict of interest as well as a specific concern that DARPA Director Regina Dugan retains financial ties to her former firm, which has won some $6 million in contracts with the agency, $4.3 million of which was awarded prior to her position as Director.[40]

The Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Ashton Carter, and the Department of Defense, General Counsel, Jeh Johnson, stated in a letter dated May 2011 addressed to Dugan, "based on what we know, we are satisfied that, given your disqualification from matters related to RedXDefense and the procedures you have put in place, there has been no violation of conflict of interest laws or regulations in the selection or funding of RedXDefense's proposals while you have been Director of DARPA".

Prior to entering the Department of Defense, potential political appointees disclose their business investments and holdings for review.[41] Senior ethics officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense General Counsel, Standards of Conduct Office (OSDGC, SOCO) determine what procedures are required to address potential conflicts. The procedures are designed to ensure that companies are neither favored nor disfavored and to permit talent to be attracted to government service.


  1. ^ a b c Dugan, Regina Elvira (1993). Axisymmetric buoyant jets in a cross flow with shear: Transition and mixing (Thesis). doi:10.7907/1jmz-kj71. OCLC 437067363. ProQuest 304018471.
  2. ^ "Regina E. Dugan | CSU". Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  3. ^ "Regina Dugan". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
  4. ^ a b "Facebook's Building 8 head, Regina Dugan, is leaving the company".
  5. ^ Gayomali, Chris (30 January 2014). "Google is Selling Motorola Mobility, But Keeping the Most Interesting and High-Tech Division". Fast Company. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Ex-Darpa Head Regina Dugan Leaves Google for Facebook". Wired.
  7. ^ "Wellcome Leap announces leadership team". Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Virginia Tech's College of Engineering inducts new academy members, honors outstanding young alumnus". Virginia Tech College of Engineering. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Ex-Darpa Head Regina Dugan Leaves Google for Facebook". Wired.
  10. ^ Davies, Chris. "Motorola's digital tattoo developing skunkworks will stay at Google". Slashgear. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  11. ^ "The dingo... Er, Google stole my patent! Biz boss tells how Choc Factory staff tried to rip off idea from interview". The Register.
  12. ^ Miller, Claire (13 August 2012). "Motorola Set for Big Cuts as Google Reinvents It". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 2012.
  13. ^ Gannes, Liz. "Electronic Tattoos and Passwords You Can Swallow: Google's Regina Dugan Is a Badass". All Things D. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  14. ^ Kalil, Tom (6 December 2013). "Partnering at the Speed of Business: University-Company Partnerships". Retrieved 6 December 2013 – via National Archives.
  15. ^ Stix, Gary. "Motorola/Google's Tech Development Strategy Starts to Emerge". Scientific American. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Regina e. Dugan Appointed to Board of Directors of Varian Medical Systems - Nov 18, 2013". Archived from the original on 2015-02-05. Retrieved 2015-02-04.
  17. ^ "News Releases | Zynga Inc".
  18. ^ "Regina Dugan". CNBC. 6 October 2014.
  19. ^ "The Most Creative People in Business". Fast Company.
  20. ^ "The CNN 10: Thinkers". CNN.
  21. ^ "The Verge 50". The Verge.
  22. ^ "Regina Dugan, senior vice president, Google's Motorola Advanced Technology and Projects division – 2013 Women in Wireless". Fierce Wireless. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  23. ^ Graff, Garrett (22 April 2011). "Tech Titans 2011". Washingtonian. Retrieved 22 April 2011.
  24. ^ Sellers, Patricia. "How to innovate? Google exec explains". Fortune. Archived from the original on 20 February 2014. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
  25. ^ Epstein, Zach (14 August 2012). "Google aims to outthink Apple with new DARPA-like research team". BGR. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  26. ^ Markoff, John (12 April 2010). "New Force Behind Agency of Wonder". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  27. ^ Eblin, Scott. "3 Lessons in Leading Innovation From DARPA's Regina Dugan". Business Management Daily. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  28. ^ Jordan, Mary (23 February 2012). "Amid gloom about U.S. competitiveness, reasons for optimism". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  29. ^ Dugan, Regina (October 2013). ""Special Forces" Innovation: How DARPA Attacks Problems". Harvard Business Review.
  30. ^ "DARPA's Regina Dugan Talks Nerds, Failure and Flight at TED". Experts Exchange. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  31. ^ Swisher, Kara. "DARPA's Regina Dugan Takes It to Mach 20: The Full D9 Interview (Video)". All Things D. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  32. ^ Fried, Ina. "Motorola's Dennis Woodside and Regina Dugan: The Full D11 Interview (Video)". All Things D. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  33. ^ "Game-Changers in Technology". Clinton Global Initiative.
  34. ^ "2011 Speakers". Fortune.
  35. ^ ""Windy Day" featured at Qualcomm's Uplinq". Digital Fish. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  36. ^ Kolawole, Emi. "Technology experts talk ideas and innovations". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  37. ^ "The Future is What We Choose to Make". Fora.
  38. ^ Schactman, Noah; Spencer Ackerman (7 March 2011). "Darpa Chief Owns Stock in Darpa Contractor". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 7 March 2011.
  39. ^ "Wired Reporters Trash Unsung DoD Science Hero". Archived from the original on 3 February 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  40. ^ Clark, Charles S. "DARPA director under investigation for conflict of interest". Government Executive. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  41. ^ Marcum, Cheryl Y.; Lauren R. Sager Weinstein; Susan D. Hosek; Harry J. Thie (2001). Department of Defense Political Appointments; Positions and Process. RAND. ISBN 0-8330-2986-X.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
2009 – 2012
Succeeded by