Coleman Takes Over as USAF’s Chief Scientist

The Air Force has a new chief scientist: Victoria Coleman, who most recently was the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Coleman started in her role as the 37th chief scientist of the Air Force last week, and was ceremoniously sworn in by Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. on April 6. Coleman served as the leader of DARPA from November 2020 to Inauguration Day in January. She replaced Richard J. Joseph, who served in the role since 2018.

Coleman, a native of Greece, spent decades serving in both academic and business roles. Before DARPA, she served as the chief executive officer of Atlas AI, as the chief technology officer of the Wikimedia Foundation, and previously worked in leadership roles for several Silicon Valley technology companies. She also served on the Defense Science Board and co-chaired a review panel on the Air Force’s 2019 Science and Technology 2030 strategy.

“I don’t think I ever had a boss that I didn’t get into trouble with for doing all this work for the DOD,” Coleman said in a November 2020 interview with Air Force Magazine. “Then you wake up one day, and you think, ‘Oh, if I really enjoy doing this so much,’ which I did, and ‘if it’s so meaningful to me, why don’t I just do it for a living?’”

In her brief time leading DARPA, Coleman launched a 90-day review focusing on future priorities, and pressed to increase the diversity of the agency.

“I want to make sure that we have as diverse a workforce as possible, because we are so much smarter, so much more likely to succeed, if we have representation from all communities,” she said.