WASHINGTON — Stefanie Tompkins on March 15 assumed the top post at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Tompkins is DARPA’s 23rd director.

She is a former military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army and previously worked at DARPA for nearly a decade. From 2007 until 2017 Tompkins served as program manager and deputy director of the agency’s Strategic Technology Office, DARPA chief of staff, as director of the Defense Sciences Office and as the acting deputy director of the agency.

As a DARPA program manager, Tompkins led programs in GPS-free navigation and optical component manufacturing.

“Stefanie is someone who really knows and respects the agency and its importance to our national security,” said Peter Highnam, DARPA’s former acting director, who will continue to serve as the agency’s deputy director.

Before returning to DARPA, Tompkins was vice president for research and technology transfer at the Colorado School of Mines. She also held senior positions at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) managing research projects on planetary geology and imaging spectroscopy.

“I am honored and thrilled to return to DARPA, where breakthrough technologies are a near-daily occurrence. Such breakthroughs could not be more consequential for our national security, economic competitiveness, and our personal lives,” Tompkins said in a statement.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...