Research Directorate: Basic Research: References:
Future Directions Workshops

The Office of Basic Research sponsors a series of workshops on emerging areas of science that are a focus of the DoD research portfolio. Workshop participants include leading researchers in their fields from academia.

Take the opportunity to provide input to the DOD regarding rapidly-advancing areas of fundamental research! Respond to the Request for Information (RFI) on Future Directions Topics, available for download or at

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workshop Basic Science and the Future Warfigher

Network Science:

On September 29–30, 2016, 25 distinguished network science researchers gathered for the Future Directions of Network Science Workshop in Arlington, VA to assess the current state of this emerging field. The diversity of participants reflects the truly interdisciplinary nature of network science—domain expertise included mathematics, physics, computer science, biology, sociology, epidemiology, population health, and communication. The goal of the meeting was to characterize major challenges, identify important application areas, and map the trajectory of the research over the next 5, 10, and 20 year horizon. This report summarizes the major insights and themes that resulted from the two-day workshop.

Quantum Information Processing:

On August 25-26, the “Future Directions of Quantum Information Processing Workshop” was held at Arlington Va. It gathered 25 distinguished experts from academia, industry and government to discuss and debate the future of the emerging field of Quantum Information Processing. The two-day workshop was organized to encourage lively discussion and debate and to maximize the interaction of participants. The first day began with short, introductory presentations that framed the workshop goals, including remarks from both Dr. Robin Staffin, Director of the Basic Research Office, ASDR&E, and Dale Ormond, Principal Director of Research for ASDR&E who welcomed the participants and provided an overview of the goals of the workshop from the DOD perspective.

Workshop Report

Quantum Workshop attendees
Quantum Workshop attendees (Picture credit: Dr. Kate Klemic)

Power and Energy: Advances from Photonic Sciences and Applications:

January 19-20th, 2016, a workshop on Future Directions of Power and Energy: Advances from Photonic Sciences and Applications was held at the Keck Conference Center at the California Institute of Technology. The workshop gathered 30 distinguished academic and industry leaders in photonic science and technology to review recent and emerging research and to discuss how advances in optical phenomena, materials, and components and systems will impact power and energy technologies of the future. Power and Energy summarizes those discussions and presents the opportunities and challenges for photonic sciences, as well as the expected trajectory of research over the next 20 years.

Compressed Sensing and the Integration of Sensing and Processing:

As it becomes possible to access ever larger amounts of data, it becomes increasingly important to develop methods of smart sensing that are able to support information-based decisions. A trend common to all disciplines and areas is the integration of sensing and (task-oriented) processing as one unit. At a workshop, held at Duke University on January 11–12, 2016, thirty distinguished researchers from academia and industry gathered to discuss the opportunities and challenges of Compressed Sensing research to intelligently address the ever increasing data produced by modern technology. Compressive Sensing captures those discussions and presents the consensus opinion about the state of the field, the challenges to progress and the trajectory of research for the next 10 and 15 years.

Visual Common Sense & Recognition:

In November 2015, nineteen distinguished academic researchers met in Arlington Virginia to discuss future opportunities, challenges, and trajectories of the Computer Vision field. Participants included experts in computer vision, artificial intelligence, robotics, and cognitive psychology. The workshop provided a valuable forum for these experts to interact with their colleagues and engage in debate and discussion about the future research trends in computer vision and common sense reasoning. Computer Vision is the product of those discussions. Its purpose is to review the past, consider the present, and to frame the future of science and technology in Computer Vision.

Foundations of Intelligent Sensing, Action and Learning:

The nascent science of Intelligent Physical Systems entails the study of agents that can act upon their physical environment by use of perceptual and reasoning processes that also enable them to interact with human and other partners. This new discipline promises future generations of machines that exhibit unprecedented abilities to work for and with us, while fostering new understanding of physical science and engineering and of biology and human psychology.

On October 19–20, 2015, a workshop was held at the University of Pennsylvania to examine the prospects of Intelligent Physical Systems and to scope a research trajectory for the next two decades. Some two dozen prominent researchers in robotics, machine learning and perception, as well as allied areas of systems theory (control, signal processing) and life science (integrative biology, cognitive science) gathered to discuss and debate the opportunities and challenges of the field. They proposed a trajectory of research to overcome the challenges and meet the opportunities. FISAL is the outcome of those discussions, presented as "Foundations of Intelligent Sensing, Action and Learning (FISAL)".

Past Workshops

workshop Future Directions in Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering Workshop • January 16-18, 2013
workshop Future Directions for Selected Topics in Mechanical and Civil Engineering Workshop • April 23-­25, 2012
workshop Neuroscience workshop (Columbia) • March 11-13 2012
workshop Future Directions in Mathematics Workshop • October 12-14, 2011
workshop Future Directions for Selected Topics in Computer Science • May 14-15, 2011

workshop This workshop highlighted many key areas of interest to the DoD including Quantum Computing and Control, Plasmonics, and Engineered Materials.

Future Directions in Engineered (Synthetic) Biology Workshop • April 4-5, 2011

workshop Future Directions for Selected Topics in Physics and Materials Science Workshop • January 19-21, 2011