Q&A with former DARPA director Arati Prabhakar

When Arati Prabhakar, an engineer who has divvied her impressive career between the public and private sectors—most recently as director of DARPA—gave the William D. Carey Lecture at the AAAS Forum on Science & Technology Policy this summer and focused many of her comments on the work Cyclotron Road is doing, we were thrilled. 

 Arati Prabhakar at the AAAS S&T Policy Forum | Photo by Mark Francis Jones

Arati Prabhakar at the AAAS S&T Policy Forum | Photo by Mark Francis Jones

When she agreed to sit for an interview with us and delve more deeply into the topic of how and why the U.S. needs new models to support entrepreneurial scientists, we were doubly thrilled.

"The whole ecosystem needs to continue to change and experiment with new ways that could help us meet the future more effectively," she told us. 

And she thinks we have real potential to do just that.

"Cyclotron Road is one of the experiments underway that I find very very encouraging. I think it’s going right at this issue," she said. "The Cyclotron Road model recognizes that there are really smart people with a lot of passion to deeply understand research advances. But in the way they’ve been trained, there is no reason to expect they have the moves to go commercialize that technology, or know what the best commercialization path might be."

"So, bringing them in and giving them access to laboratory facilities they need to do their work, and also immersing them in thinking about business — this is very different from just thinking about the research or the science."

Check out the full interview on our blog, Phase Change.