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Peter Highnam named IARPA director

Dr. Peter Highnam was tapped on Aug. 30 as the second director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Project Agency (IARPA) by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Highnam, IAPRA’s second director, had been serving as the acting director of the agency since the departure of its first director, Dr. Lisa Porter, in May 2012. Porter had been IARPA’s head since 2008.  

“Peter will maintain the high bar for technical excellence and relevance to mission that Lisa established, and will continue to work closely with partners throughout the national security community," said Clapper in an Aug. 30 statement.

IARPA is a center within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and is the intelligence communities’ equivalent of the Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) that develops advanced technologies for the U.S. aimed at providing overwhelming advantages over future adversaries.

IARPA was formed in 2006 the National Security Agency's Disruptive Technology Office (DTO), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s National Technology Alliance and the Central Intelligence Agency’s Intelligence Technology Innovation Center.

Highnam joined the ODNI in February 2009 as the director for IARPA’s IncisiveAnalysis Office. Prior to that, he was a senior advisor in the National Institutes of Health and then in the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. From 1999 to 2003, Highnam was a DARPA program manager with programs in electronic warfare and airborne communications. Before joining DARPA, he worked for more than a decade in applied research in industry.

Highnam, said the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, holds a Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award and a Department of Defense Civilian Exceptional Service Award. He is a co-inventor on three patents in commercial seismic exploration and holds a doctorate in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University, it said.