After a global search that resulted in 60 applicants, the MIT Media Lab has announced that Dava Newman, SM ’89, SM ’89, PhD ’92, professor of astronautics at MIT, will become its new director on July 1.
Newman, whose work integrated engineering, design, and biomedical research with the goal of improving human performance in space, is well known for developing the BioSuit, an advanced “second skin” space suit that could allow astronauts to move more naturally in zero gravity. His professional interests also encompass innovation and access to education, climate change, the performing arts, and science and technology policy. She led the Technology and Politics program at MIT from 2003 to 2015, was appointed a member of the MacVicar faculty, and served as director of Baker House for a decade. Principal investigator for four space missions, Newman served as NASA deputy administrator from 2015 to 2017, the first female engineer in that role.
With this experience, she brings a boldly interdisciplinary perspective to a laboratory famous for its free approach to technological innovation. “She is a designer, a thinker, a creator, an engineer, an educator, a mentor, a facilitator, a communicator, a futurist, a humanist and, above all, an optimist,” Dean Hashim Sarkis wrote in his letter announcing the selection.
“I truly see the MIT Media Lab as the best place in the world to bring together science, engineering, art and design to creatively address the enormous challenges facing humanity,” Newman says. “The magic of the Media Lab – on which I hope to help build – is to provide a trusted, open-minded and stimulating space where everyone can bring extraordinary expertise while going beyond their comfort zone to collectively imagine a better future. and more daring. . ”