Army's corporate laboratory welcomes new deputy chief scientist

January 05, 2017

By Jenna Brady, ARL Public Affairs

Story Highlights

  • ARL has welcomed a new deputy chief scientist to help lead the laboratory in support of the Army of the future.
  • Dr. Mary Harper will specifically focus on oversight of the Technical Assessment Board reviews, selection of the Director's Research Awards, mentoring the staff and direct engagement with the ARL Fellows.

ADELHPI, Md. (Jan. 5, 2017) -- The U.S. Army Research Laboratory has welcomed a new deputy chief scientist to help lead the laboratory in support of the Army of the future.

Dr. Mary Harper officially assumed her duties last month and is eager to jump in and learn all that she can to help guide the laboratory as it focuses on supporting the Army of 2050.

"I took this job because I wanted to make a difference," Harper said. "I believe I can do that through learning more about what ARL does and understanding how I, given my experience, can play a role. To think that I can work with researchers at ARL to help shape the future of Army science and technology is the most exciting part of this journey for me."

According to ARL Chief Scientist Dr. Joe Mait, Harper will be an invaluable asset to the laboratory from the roles she will play to the depth of knowledge she brings to the position.

"The breadth of issues for which the chief scientist is responsible is unwieldy for just one individual to do well," Mait said. "The chief scientist is involved in forecasting, planning and assessing ARL's technical program as well as creating an environment that enables the technical staff to perform its work effectively. As deputy chief scientist, Dr. Harper will focus primarily on assessment of the technical program and on the environment."

Specifically, Harper's activities will include, for example, oversight of the Technical Assessment Board reviews, selection of the Director's Research Awards, mentoring the staff and direct engagement with the ARL Fellows.

"Mary's background as a full professor at Purdue and a program manager at the National Science Foundation and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity make her uniquely capable to mentor staff and review technical programs," Mait said. "In addition, given the lab's increased emphasis on humans and intelligent systems working together, her background in signal processing and psychology is a huge plus."

The enthusiasm Harper has for her new position is enhanced by her own personal connection to the armed forces.

"Having a nephew who served our country as a Soldier in the Army gives even more meaning to my new position at ARL," Harper said. "Being a part of an organization that strives to protect our Soldiers on the battlefield is both exciting and humbling."

While she is still making her rounds throughout the laboratory as part of her onboarding process and meeting many new faces along the way, Harper keeps in mind the hopes that she would like to bring to fruition moving forward.

"I hope during my time at ARL that I can help in whatever way possible to make the laboratory even more successful than it already is in high quality science and technology focused on future mission readiness. I believe an important metric of ARL research success is that what we are doing is so exciting that we look forward to getting out of bed in the morning to do it," Harper said.

Harper comes to ARL from IARPA, where she served as a program director in Incisive Analysis and designed and oversaw the Babel program and the ASpIRE challenge.

Before her time at IARPA, Harper was a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University from 1989 to 2007, where her academic research focused on computer modeling of human communication with a focus on methods for incorporating multiple types of knowledge sources, including lexical, syntactic, prosodic and visual sources.

While continuing her research activities at Purdue, Harper also served as a rotating program director at the National Science Foundation from 2002 to 2005.

She then joined the Center for the Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland in 2005 as a senior research scientist investigating the use of human language technology. From 2006 to 2008, she took on the role of area director for the Technology Use sub-area.

From 2008 to 2010, Harper, as a principle research scientist, worked together with researchers at the Johns Hopkins Human Language Technology Center of Excellence to develop next-generation human language technologies.

Harper received a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in mathematics from Kent State University, a master's degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts, and a master's degree and doctorate in computer science from Brown University. She has published over 100 papers in peer reviewed publications and has served on multiple program committees including the International Conference on Multimodal Interfaces 2004 and the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics Human Language Technologies 2010.

In addition, Harper served as an associate editor of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Transactions on Audio Speech and Language Processing in Linguistic Technologies.

She was elected a Fellow of the International Speech and Communication Association in 2016.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.


Last Update / Reviewed: January 5, 2017