Martin is playing the long game in terms of her goals in leading the Energy Department's advanced-research arm. The agency, which Obama created when he first came to office in 2009, is modeled after the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency. "DARPA is 50 years old. Ideally, 50 years from now we can be as successful in terms of having an impact," Martin, 50, says. In Obama's first term, ARPA-E garnered high-profile attention as the administration poured stimulus money into the department's clean-energy programs, especially early-stage, cutting-edge technology that hasn't yet reached commercial markets. Martin says the budget-constrained environment of Obama's second term won't cripple ARPA-E's agenda because of the relationships it has established with universities, organizations, and private companies. "What we do works because we're really partnering with the people we awarded," Martin says. "That partnership stays intact through all of this." Martin is from Massachusetts and stayed in the area for her education. She earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry from the College of the Holy Cross and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before coming to the administration in July 2011, Martin had a lengthy career in the chemical industry, most recently in the paint and coatings material business in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This is her first stint in government.