Brian DeMarco selected for Defense Science Study Group

Siv Schwink

Professor Brian DeMarco
Professor Brian DeMarco
University of Illinois Professor of Physics Brian DeMarco has been selected as a member of the Defense Science Study Group (DSSG), a program that gives leading scientists and engineers a chance to participate in the dialogue on technological challenges and advancements relating to national security. Over the course of the program, DSSG members focus on defense policy, related research and development, and the systems, missions, and operations of the armed forces and the intelligence community.

“I’m excited about this opportunity because it is a chance to learn about how science can inform and impact policy within the federal government and defense agencies,” DeMarco comments. “The DSSG is also a pathway into important organizations such as JASON that can have a broad impact on how we react as a nation to challenges such as energy generation and climate change.”

During the two-year program, DeMarco will meet with other DSSG members for four week-long summer sessions and four three-day sessions, each providing continuing opportunities to learn about the current national security environment and the role science and technology plays within it. In these sessions, DeMarco will get the chance to meet with top-level officials from the Department of Defense (DoD) and other Government organizations, various intelligence agencies, the White House, and Congress. He will also tour the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center, military command facilities and training centers, defense-industry facilities, and national laboratories.

In the second year of the two-year program, DSSG members are asked to write studies, called “think pieces”, on national security issues of their own choosing. The studies allow members to bring their knowledge from an academic environment to bear on issues of particular importance to DoD and to interact with individuals in DoD with related interests.

At the final session of the program, members present the results of their “think pieces.” They are also briefed by representatives of Government study boards, including the Defense Science Board, the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, the Army Science Board, the Naval Research Advisory Council, the Naval Science Board, JASON, and the Information Science and Technology panel. Representatives from these boards provide an overview of their group’s activities and future projects, and learn how members can participate in the work done by these defense advisory organizations.

DeMarco's research program at the U. of I. focuses on solving outstanding problems in condensed matter physics using ultra-cold atoms trapped in an optical lattice. This approach, of using one quantum system to emulate another, is known as quantum simulation and was first proposed as a potentially revolutionary technique by Richard Feynmann. Current research problems being tackled by his team include the properties of the disordered Bose- and Fermi-Hubbard models, thermometry and cooling in strongly correlated lattice systems, and unique states of matter in spin-dependent optical lattices. DeMarco's group was the first identify the cross-over between quantum tunneling and thermal activation of phase slips in an optical lattice (published in Nature) and the first to realize 3D Anderson localization of matter (published in Science). His group was also the first to trap atoms in a disordered optical lattice in a regime described by the disordered Bose-Hubbard and disordered Fermi-Hubbard model.

The Defense Science Study Group (DSSG) is a program of education and study that introduces outstanding science and engineering professors to the United States’ security challenges and encourages them to apply their talents to these issues. The program, begun in 1986, is directed by the non-profit Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).


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