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Reported new DARPA chief brings true geek, dash of green tech controversy

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Running DARPA has always demanded a certain amount of tech-savviness -- it created what ultimately became the internet, after all -- but it may get an extra coat of green paint with a new leader. The agency has reportedly taken on Arati Prabhakar as its new director, and Wired notes that she has a lot more than just the agency itself under her belt. Along with going so far as to found DARPA's Microelectronics Technology Office, she ran the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and eventually signed on with Interval Research the venture capital firm that backed the solar power company Solyndra as well as numerous other green tech projects. That last decision has drawn a fair share of flak: Solyndra got about $500 million of public funding and still went under. With that in mind, an anonymous senior military staffer claims that Prabhakar wasn't involved in the questionable government loan and went through "extensive vetting," so it's doubtful that the funding will cast the same shadow over her DARPA technology investments as it did for the outgoing director, Regina Dugan. Even so, there will no doubt be a close watch over Prabhakar if the appointment is made public, both for those who want to keep her honest as well as for the potentially huge amount of insight into clean energy and general technology that she can wield.

[Image credit: SRI]

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