CSU adds session on mental health to precede DARPA Forward conference

Frederick Marx
The event features Oscar-nominated filmmaker Frederick Marx of “Hoop Dreams” and “The Veterans’ Project.”

Every day, an average of 20 veterans commit suicide in the U.S. This staggering figure is reflective of a “silent pandemic” where those who have served in the military are 15 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and five times more likely to experience depression.

That’s why Colorado State University, before hosting the DARPA Forward conference later this month, will offer a separate session on Aug. 29 focused on mental health struggles in these challenging times.

The event, “Collaborations in Mental Wellness,” features documentary filmmaker Frederick Marx (“Hoop Dreams,” “The Veterans’ Project”); Joe Conrad, founder and CEO of Grit Digital Health in Denver; CSU professors; and Department of Defense officials. Companies will demonstrate the latest VR technology applicable to psychology.

“Those who serve in the military are experiencing a silent pandemic in mental health issues and we need to focus on actions that build mental resilience to improve their abilities later in life,” said Alan Rudolph, vice president for research and a former DARPA program manager. “We are hosting this important satellite meeting on mental wellness before the DARPA Forward conference to explore how science, cinema and new technology can help people thrive given the challenges of their times.”

CSU is one of the top schools in the country for veterans, according to the Military Times.

The “Collaborations in Mental Wellness” symposium begins at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 29 at Hilton Fort Collins. It concludes with virtual reality demonstrations by HP Inc., Tripp Co. and CSU.

The event is hosted by the Office of the Vice President for Research and admission is free to the public. Click here for program and registration information.

The next day, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) brings its DARPA Forward conference series to CSU’s Lory Student Center. It’s the first of six such conferences across the country. It begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, and continues into Wednesday, Aug. 31.

The event seeks to connect DARPA leaders with new communities of talent and partnerships. The goal: energize regional research and business, fuel breakthroughs in national security, and help deliver the U.S. technological advantage. Colorado was selected due to its burgeoning technology innovation ecosystem from Fort Collins to Denver to Colorado Springs.

DARPA Forward participants will hear from world-renowned scientists, accomplished innovators, and senior defense leaders. Among the topics are the future of autonomous vehicles, microbial movements in the airborne ecosystem, cybersecurity threats to society and how to produce food in space.


Kathleen H. Hicks (left), deputy secretary at the Department of Defense, Gen. James H. Dickinson, commander of U.S. Space Command, and Tom Vilsack, secretary of the Department of Agriculture, are among the speakers invited to the DARPA Forward conference.

Among the speakers invited:

  • Kathleen H. Hicks, deputy secretary at the Department of Defense
  • Tom Vilsack, secretary of Department of Agriculture
  • Gen. James H. Dickinson, commander of U.S. Space Command

CSU Chancellor Tony Frank is scheduled to deliver welcoming remarks. A dozen CSU professors will share cutting-edge research on emergent issues. They are:

  • Tami Bond, microbial movements in the aerobiome
  • Angela Bosco-Lauth, microbial movements in the aereobiome
  • Amy Charkowski, adapting agriculture for humans in space and austere environments
  • Deana Davalos, mental wellness interventions and technologies
  • Karyn Hamilton, adapting agriculture for humans in space and austere environments
  • James Hurrell, geoengineering for climate protection
  • Michael Kirby, big data and predictive analytical tools in the context of One Health
  • Craig Partridge, cybersecurity threats to society
  • Steve Simske, cybersecurity threats to society
  • Susan VandeWoude, big data and predictive analytical tools in the context of One Health
  • Bryan Willson, geoengineering for climate protection
  • Lise Youngblade, mental wellness interventions and technologies

Also at the conference, 14 up-and-coming young CSU scholars will be recognized as DARPA Risers, who are standouts in their fields, and whose research is related to national security and demonstrates the potential to lead to technological surprise — the heart of DARPA’s mission. The CSU DARPA Risers can be found here.

Deadline for registration for DARPA Forward is Aug. 12. For more information and to register, click here.