SOURCE: Aptima, Inc.

Aptima, the R&D firm focused on how people think, learn and behave.

January 11, 2010 09:40 ET

Dr. Mitchell Zakin, Co-Inventor of "InfoChemistry" and Former DARPA Program Manager, Joins Aptima, Inc.

Human-Centered R&D Firm and Visionary Chemist to Pursue Fusion of Mind and Matter

WOBURN, MA--(Marketwire - January 11, 2010) - Aptima, Inc., the leading human-centered R&D company that applies expertise in the disciplines of how humans think, learn, and behave to solve challenges faced by the U.S. Department of Defense, announced that Dr. Mitchell Zakin, the visionary scientist most recently affiliated with DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), has joined the company as Senior Vice-President of Innovation.

Dr. Zakin comes to Aptima as a prolific idea generator who has conceived and overseen highly-acclaimed projects in the emerging field of InfoChemistry, the fusion of information technology with materials to create radically new capabilities for the warfighter and military medicine. A practical futurist credited with reviving the chemistry discipline at DARPA, Dr. Zakin created the roadmap for ground-breaking inventions, such as Chemical Robots and Fracture Putty, which have blurred the distinction between materials and machines.

In joining Aptima, Dr. Zakin's skill in redefining chemistry and the material sciences is united with a company whose expertise is in human cognitive, behavioral and social sciences. "The fusion of mind and matter represents a broad continuum, ranging from harnessing the brain's tremendous capability as a processor/controller, to development of devices with higher-order cognitive capabilities, to designing more natural interfaces between humans and machines, to creating physical systems that mimic the complex, yet powerful characteristics of human social dynamics. This is a natural and logical extension of the InfoChemistry concept to higher-order information, such as thought and memory, and we foresee this as being one of the next great frontiers of science. We will be exploring significant applications of this vision in areas as diverse as robotics, prosthetics, energy, pharmaceuticals, rehabilitation, and clinical medicine," commented Dr. Zakin.

"Mitch is a first-rate innovator and multi-disciplinary collaborator who has an ambitious and exciting vision of the human use of information and knowledge in the future. As an extraordinarily prolific scientist he has repeatedly created new realities that never before existed," said Daniel Serfaty, CEO and Principal Founder of Aptima. "We are thrilled to have him on board as we embark on this new path of human-system integration, fusing the physical with the cognitive."

Dr. Zakin broke through the boundaries of conventional chemistry at DARPA, where his projects included Chemical Robots (ChemBots), a new class of soft, flexible, mobile objects that can change shape and maneuver through openings smaller than their dimensions to perform various tasks; Fracture Putty, a fully load-bearing material which rapidly restores ambulatory function to patients with severe orthopedic fractures, and which dissolves over time as normal bone regenerates; Programmable Matter, a new functional form of matter that can assemble into complex 3D objects upon external command, and then disassemble for reuse; Chemical Communications, a new class of self-powered modulated optical communications systems based solely on chemistry; and Instant Fire Suppression, a radically new approach for extinguishing and controlling fire via manipulation of the flame plasma.

In his new role, Dr. Zakin will work with the Aptima CEO and his leadership team to set the corporate vision and to pursue and commercialize new opportunities. This will include creation of innovative new entities focused on both the science and the practical applications of fusing mind and matter. Dr. Zakin will also work to create an environment of creativity and innovation throughout the entire company.

"Aptima is a tremendous organization that is a leader in cognitive sciences and modeling," said Dr. Zakin. "Their quality of science, rigorous tools, outstanding people, and leadership provide a synergistic launch point to create revolutionary new technologies. To be in an environment like Aptima where I can exercise creativity with the broadest reach is well-matched to how I do my best work."

As Program Manager-Advisor at the Defense Sciences Office of DARPA, Dr. Zakin created and managed a diverse $100 million R&D program portfolio, focused on revolutionary applications of information chemistry and material science to defense and medical needs. Previously, Dr. Zakin established the Life Sciences business area at Physical Sciences, Inc. to apply innovative chemistry to significant problems in medicine and defense, with particular focus on assays, clinical diagnostics, and materials. From 1987 to 1997, he was with Spectral Sciences, Inc., where he performed research in the areas of chemical detection, spectroscopy, radiation transport, and sonoluminescence. During the past 20 years, Dr. Zakin has also served as an advisor and consultant to private industry.

Dr. Zakin received the bachelor's degree in chemistry (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi) in 1981 from the City College of New York, and a master's degree (1983) and doctorate (1986) in physical chemistry from Harvard University. From 1985 to 1987, he served as a postdoctoral research fellow at Exxon Research and Engineering Company, exploring the properties of nanostructured materials. Dr. Zakin has 4 U.S. patents, has authored 24 articles in peer-reviewed technical publications, and is a member of the American Chemical Society and the American Physical Society.

About Aptima:

Aptima, Inc. is a leading human-centered research, development, and engineering company that works primarily for the military research labs, DARPA, and NASA. We optimize the fit between people, the technology they use, and the organizations in which they work. Aptima's innovative approach integrates social science and engineering to produce new knowledge and new technologies that ensure mission success. Aptima is headquartered near Boston, in Woburn, MA, with offices in Washington, DC and Dayton, OH. For more information, please visit

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