Recent policies combined with potential for technological innovations and business opportunities, have attracted a high level of interest in smart grids. The potential for a highly distributed system with a high penetration of intermittent sources poses opportunities and challenges. Any complex dynamic infrastructure network typically has many layers, decision-making units and is vulnerable to various types of disturbances. Effective, intelligent, distributed control is required that would enable parts of the networks to remain operational and even automatically reconfigure in the event of local failures or threats of failure. A major challenge is posed by the lack of a unified mathematical framework with robust tools for modeling, simulation, control and optimization of time-critical operations in complex multicomponent and multiscaled networks. Mathematical models of such complex systems are typically vague (or may not even exist); moreover, existing and classical methods of solution are either not available, or are not sufficiently powerful. From a strategic R&D viewpoint, how to retrofit and engineer a stable, secure, resilient grid with large numbers of such unpredictable power sources? What roles will assets optimization, increased efficiency, energy storage, advanced power electronics, power quality, electrification of transportation, novel control algorithms, communications, cyber and infrastructure security play in the grid of the future? What are the emerging technologies to enable new products, services, and markets? In this presentation, we will present an overview of smart grids and recent advances in distributed sensing, modeling, and control, particularly at both the high-voltage power grid and at consumer level. Such advances may contribute toward the development of an effective, intelligent, distributed control of power system networks with a focus on addressing distributed sensing, computation, estimation, controls and dynamical systems challenges and opportunities ahead.