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OU Researcher Receives Department of Defense Young Faculty Award

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July 7, 2020

OU Researcher Receives Department of Defense Young Faculty Award

Justin Metcalf

NORMAN, OKLA. – Justin Metcalf, assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Gallogly College of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma, has received a Young Faculty Award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

In recent years, commercial and military demand for using the electromagnetic spectrum has exploded. Mobile devices, digital audio and streaming platforms compete with military needs for communications and intelligence. Metcalf’s research project explores how the electromagnetic spectrum has become critically congested.

“This is a spectacular honor and a very competitive award from the Department of Defense,” said Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, OU vice president for research and partnerships. “To have the University of Oklahoma represented in this program is a boon for the university and the state for advancing defense and national security research.”

“Just like your favorite radio or TV station, users of the electromagnetic spectrum traditionally operate in rigidly allocated frequency bands," Metcalf said. “To deal with the exploding demand for spectrum, government and telecommunications industries have been trying to develop technologies to share frequency bands. Unfortunately, sharing spectrum between 5G networks and defense systems is particularly challenging, especially with respect to sharing between 5G networks and radar systems."

“One solution being investigated to counter this problem is to develop techniques for radar and communications systems to automatically ‘get along’ while simultaneously maximizing their information throughput,” he said. “This technology would enable defense and commercial users of the spectrum to dynamically share unlicensed bands, allowing the DoD to maintain radar capability in bands that may be sold to 5G providers without requiring the costly infrastructure needed to enforce cooperative spectrum sharing technologies.”

The Young Faculty Award program offered by DARPA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, provides funding, mentoring, and industry and Department of Defense contacts to awardees early in their careers so they may develop their research ideas in the context of national security needs. The long-term goal of the program is to develop the next generation of academic scientists, engineers and mathematicians who will focus a significant portion of their career on national security issues.