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Dava Newman        

Former Deputy Administrator of NASA; Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics at MIT; Director of MIT Media Lab

Dr. Dava Newman is the Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society as well as a Harvard–MIT Health, Sciences, and Technology faculty member. She was named the new director of the MIT Media Lab, effective July 1, 2021.

Her research expertise is in multidisciplinary aerospace biomedical engineering investigating human performance across the spectrum of gravity. She is a leader in advanced spacesuit design, dynamics, and control of astronaut motion, leadership development, innovation, and space policy. Newman was the principal investigator on four spaceflight missions. The Space Shuttle Dynamic Load Sensors (DLS) experiment measured astronaut-induced disturbances of the microgravity environment on mission STS-62. An advanced system, the Enhanced Dynamic Load Sensors experiment, flew onboard the Russian Mir Space Station from 1996–1998.

Newman was a Co-Investigator on the Mental Workload and Performance Experiment (MWPE) that flew to space on STS-42 to measure astronaut mental workload and fine motor control in microgravity. She also developed the MICR0-G space flight experiment to provide a novel sensor suite and study human adaptation in extreme environments. She is the MIT PI on the Gravity Loading Countermeasure Suit, or Skinsuit, onboard the International Space Station as an ESA technology demonstration 2015-2017. Best known for her second skin "BioSuit" planetary EVA system, her advanced spacesuits inventions are now being applied to “soft suits” to study and enhance locomotion on Earth. Newman is the author of Interactive Aerospace Engineering and Design, an introductory engineering textbook, and has published more than 300 papers in journals and refereed conferences, and holds numerous compression technology patents. She has supervised 90 graduate student theses and supervised and mentored over 200 undergraduate researchers.

She served as NASA Deputy Administrator from 2015 to 2017, nominated by President Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Along with the NASA Administrator, she was responsible for articulating the agency’s vision, providing leadership and policy direction, and representing NASA to the White House, Congress, international space agencies, and industry. Newman was the first female engineer and scientist to serve in this role and was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. She championed the human journey to Mars, technology and innovation, and education.

Newman has received many honors over the course of her illustrious career. Some of her recent honors include being named a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar and AIAA Fellow. She was the recipient of the AIAA Jeffries Aerospace Medicine and Life Sciences Research Award, Women in Aerospace Leadership Award, and the Aerospace Medical Association’s Henry L. Taylor Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Aerospace Human Factors.

Newman’s "BioSuit" has been exhibited at the Venice Biennial, American Museum of Natural History, Victoria and Albert and Museum, and Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Newman earned her Ph.D. in aerospace biomedical engineering, Master of Science degrees in aerospace engineering and technology and policy from MIT, and her bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Speech Topics

Human Exploration from Earth to Mars: Becoming Interplanetary

Abstract: Recent space science missions to Pluto and Jupiter, the discovery of thousands of exoplanets, and orbital missions to monitor Spaceship Earth will be highlighted. Humanity will become interplanetary, and is on a journey to Mars. We are closer to reaching the Red Planet with human explorers than we have ever been in our history. Space agencies, academia and industry are working right now on the technologies and missions that will enable human “boots on Mars” in the 2030s. We are testing advanced technologies for the next giant leaps of exploration. From solar electric propulsion to cutting edge life support systems, to the first crops grown in space, the journey to Mars is already unfolding in tangible ways today for tomorrow. A three-stage plan will be highlighted – from missions close to Earth involving commercial partners and the International Space Station, advancing to missions in Earth–Moon orbit, or deep space, and finally moving on to Mars, where explorers will be practically independent from spaceship Earth. The innovation required to realize humanity becoming interplanetary cuts across science, human exploration and technology. Fundamentally, education, knowledge and access are the keys to exploring our solar system, Spaceship Earth, and ourselves. The urgency of education about our own planet is shown through super computer data visualizations accessible through online open platforms. The presentation concludes with an inclusive message on STEAMD (science-technology-engineering-arts-math-design) about changing the conversation to include everyone: the artists, designers, poets and makers. We are all astronauts on Spaceship Earth! Eleanor Roosevelt once said that the “future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”


Dava Newman named director of MIT Media Lab
Dava Newman SM ’89, SM ’89, PhD ’92, an MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics whose groundbreaking work has advanced human performance in space with the goal of interplanetary reach, has been named the new director of the MIT Media Lab, effective July 1, 2021.
Some Entrepreneurs Are Adapting To A COVID-19 World. Others ...
Others include Professor Sandy Pentland, one of Forbes's “7 most powerful data scientists in the world,” and former NASA deputy administrator Dava Newman.
Bullhorn Announces EngageX, an Immersive Experiential ...
Guest Keynote: Dr. Dava Newman, Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), former NASA Deputy ...
At Cape Canaveral, Trump's Search for a Heroic Narrative Is Thwarted
Dava J. Newman, a former deputy NASA administrator under Mr. Obama who now teaches at M.I.T., said the achievement of this new phase in America's space  ...
This Sleek Spiderman Spacesuit Could Take Astronauts To Mars
When humans go to live on Mars, those 300-pound space suits are going to get old fast. The Biosuit, with its tight-fitting Spiderman look, could make exploring the red planet a bit sexier.

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