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Brad Petersen
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1066 ECE Building
306 N. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 244-6376
bradp@illinois.edu

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Meg Dickinson
Communications Specialist
1068 ECE Building
306 N. Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 300-6664
megd@illinois.edu

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Todd Coleman joins prestigious ISAT study

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By Megan Kelly, Coordinated Science Lab
November 12, 2009

  • ECE Prof. Todd Coleman has been invited to join the Information Science and Technology study group of DARPA.
  • ISAT's objective is to assess the state of advanced information science and technology for the Department of Defense.
  • Coleman is looking forward to investigating challenging engineering and societal issues.

Todd Prentice Coleman
Todd Prentice Coleman

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has invited ECE Assistant Professor and CSL researcher Todd Prentice Coleman to join its Information Science and Technology (ISAT) study group for a three year term beginning this fall. The group carries about 30 people and only invites the brightest new scientists and engineers to be members.

ISAT Chair Patrick Lincoln said Coleman was chosen “because of his brilliance, past contributions, wit and charm.” He also comes highly recommended by Professor Effros, CalTech, and Professor Medard, MIT.

“We hope he will bring a new creative perspective on the problems of future Defense Department interest, that the Defense Department is not putting much energy into at present,” Lincoln said. “(We hope he will) open our eyes to new possibilities.”

Coleman said he was pleasantly surprised when he received an e-mail invitation to join the group.

“It seems like a very fun, brainstorming opportunity,” Coleman said. “I look forward to learning from some of the senior people who are well established with unique viewpoints. It’s an honor and I’m excited and looking forward to it.”

ISAT was established in 1987 by DARPA, and its main objective is to continually and independently assess the state of advanced information science and technology as it relates to the U.S. Department of Defense. The group identifies areas to develop new or improved computer and communication technologies, recommends research directions and performs three large studies each year, which are kept confidential to the public.

“It is expected that ISAT members will propose to lead or co-lead at least one study during their three year tenure and also participate actively in one study each year,” Lincoln said.

Study topics are nominated in the summer, chosen in the fall or early winter and performed in the spring and early summer. The studies culminate during a weeklong retreat at the National Academy of Sciences conference facility in August, Lincoln added.

Coleman will meet with the group for the first time later this month in the Washington D.C. area, where he will learn more about the current group studies and his responsibilities.

“I’m looking forward to studying the right way to view problems and the correct methodologies to attack very challenging engineering and societal issues,” Coleman said. “I’ve looked at some of the chairs from the past and they’re very well respected people in the community.”

ISAT’s 30 members are staggered on three-year terms. Former chairs include Steve Cross, Victor Zue, John Hennessy, Al McLaughlin, Jack Thorpe, Bill Mark, Ed Lazowska and Michael Kearns.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how these very smart people interact and understanding how their thought processes evolve,” Coleman said.

Lincoln also anticipates working with Coleman in the future.

“We expect great things from Professor Coleman,” he said.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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