Dava Newman

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Director, MIT Media Lab; Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics, MIT; Former NASA Administrator; Multidisciplinary Authority on the Requirements of Human Performance in Aerospace Futures

Biography

Dr. Dava Newman is the Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, the Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics at MIT and a Harvard–MIT Health, Sciences, and Technology faculty member. She has been a faculty leader in her home department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and MIT’s School of Engineering for 27 years and holds top-secret clearance.

From May 2015 through January 2017, the Honorable Dr. Dava Newman served as NASA Deputy Administrator. She was nominated by President Barack Obama in November 2014 and again in January 2015 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate unanimously in April 2015. Along with the NASA Administrator, she was responsible for articulating the agency’s vision, providing overall leadership and policy direction, and representing NASA to the Executive Office of the President, Congress, heads of federal government agencies, international space agencies, and industry. She helped realize significant annual budget increases resulting in $19.3 B and $19.6 B USD budgets in FY16 and FY17 and provided instrumental leadership of NASA’s 17,500 civil servants and over 45,000 contractors in the immediate workforce. Strategic successes included NASA being named the Best Place to Work in the US Federal Government each year, working with the White House and the Congress to have a new $3 billion-dollar experimental aircraft initiative over the next decade in NASA’s FY17 budget request as part of the President’s Clean Transportation initiative, and leading NASA’s contribution to the White House Science Ministerial focusing on arctic, earth, ocean, and climate sciences. Dr. Newman provided leadership and oversight for all NASA partnerships, including all US and over 800 international agreements with over 120 nations. Dr. Newman was the first female engineer to serve in this role and was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

Best known for her second skin BioSuit™ planetary EVA system, her advanced spacesuits inventions are now being applied to “soft suits/exoskeletons” to study and enhance locomotion on Earth. She has exhibited the BioSuit™ at the American Museum of Natural History, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Paris’ Cite des Sciences et de L’Industrie, Chicago Museum of Science + Industry, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her latest research targeting climate change seeks to accelerate understanding and possible actions to help regenerate Earth’s oceans, land and atmosphere.

In addition to holding numerous design and compression technology patents, Dr. Newman is the author of Interactive Aerospace Engineering and Design, an introductory engineering design textbook. She has published more than 300 papers in journals, supervised 90 graduate student theses and supervised and mentored over 200 undergraduate researchers.

A champion of technology, innovation, education, and the human journey to Mars, Dr. Newman, along with her partner, Guillermo Trotti, circumnavigated between 2001 and 2003, sailing 36,000 nm around the world teaching “Exploration via Space and Sea.”  An exceptional leader and advocate for diversity and inclusion, Dr. Newman has made significant contributions to the nation’s STEM initiatives by changing the conversation to include science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and design, or STEAMD. She provided critical leadership on the U.S. Interagency Policy Group on Increasing Diversity in the STEM Workforce by reducing the impact of bias led by the White House and U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The impactful final report entitled, “Reducing the Impact of Bias in the STEM Workforce: Strengthening Excellence and Innovation” provides guidance for educating, advancing and diversifying a world-class STEM workforce in the Federal Government and federally funded institutions of higher education, and for sharing lessons learned in the process.

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

Dava Newman is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

Interactive Aerospace Engineering and Design

(McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math, July 2001

Media

MIT Media Lab logo

MIT Space Policy Compendium

March 1, 2021

Media Lab's New Head

February 23, 2021

Professor Dava Newman Named New Director of MIT Media Lab

January 14, 2021

MIT Media Lab Names Dava Newman as New Director

December 22, 2020

Through Other Eyes with Dava Newman

November 18, 2020

Dava Newman: Space Exploration, Space Suits, and Life on Mars (Video)

November 22, 2019

Dava Newman at the JFK Space Summit

July 8, 2019

Spacesuits Have Been Bulky Since Before Apollo 11. A Skintight Design May Change That.

July 21, 2019

Apollo 11 Lifted Her Eyes to the Skies. Now this Montana Woman is Helping Chart a Course for NASA's Return to the Moon

July 19, 2019

Future Spacesuits Should be Beautiful - and Not Just for Space. Here's Why

November 8, 2018

Dava Newman

November 2018

Designing a New Space Suit -- Customized to Each Wearer (Audio)

August 2, 2018

Climate Change From Space and on Earth (Video)

June 23, 2018

Lessons in NASA Leadership

April 5, 2018

Red Planet Radio - Dr. Dava Newman, Former NASA Deputy Administrator, MIT Professor (Audio)

January 29, 2018

NASA's Dava Newman on the Mars Plan

October 30, 2016

WBUR radio logo

Dava Newman Brings Her Optimism, Passion for Space from MIT to NASA (with Audio)

July 9, 2015

When White House Rang, Dava Newman Thought It Was a Prank

November 18, 2015

Wired logo

Aerospace Gurus Show Off a Fancy Space Suit Made for Mars

November 5, 2014

Obama Nominates Dava Newman to be NASA Deputy Administrator

October 16, 2014

Shrink-wrapping Spacesuits

September 18, 2014

This New Form-Fitting Spacesuit Could Revolutionize How Astronauts Move In Space

December 13, 2013

This Sleek Spiderman Spacesuit Could Take Astronauts To Mars

December 10, 2013

Over the Moon

Spring 2012

A-Z Name

Newman, Dava

Biography

Dr. Dava Newman is the Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, the Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics at MIT and a Harvard–MIT Health, Sciences, and Technology faculty member. She has been a faculty leader in her home department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and MIT’s School of Engineering for 27 years and holds top-secret clearance.

From May 2015 through January 2017, the Honorable Dr. Dava Newman served as NASA Deputy Administrator. She was nominated by President Barack Obama in November 2014 and again in January 2015 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate unanimously in April 2015. Along with the NASA Administrator, she was responsible for articulating the agency’s vision, providing overall leadership and policy direction, and representing NASA to the Executive Office of the President, Congress, heads of federal government agencies, international space agencies, and industry. She helped realize significant annual budget increases resulting in $19.3 B and $19.6 B USD budgets in FY16 and FY17 and provided instrumental leadership of NASA’s 17,500 civil servants and over 45,000 contractors in the immediate workforce. Strategic successes included NASA being named the Best Place to Work in the US Federal Government each year, working with the White House and the Congress to have a new $3 billion-dollar experimental aircraft initiative over the next decade in NASA’s FY17 budget request as part of the President’s Clean Transportation initiative, and leading NASA’s contribution to the White House Science Ministerial focusing on arctic, earth, ocean, and climate sciences. Dr. Newman provided leadership and oversight for all NASA partnerships, including all US and over 800 international agreements with over 120 nations. Dr. Newman was the first female engineer to serve in this role and was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

Best known for her second skin BioSuit™ planetary EVA system, her advanced spacesuits inventions are now being applied to “soft suits/exoskeletons” to study and enhance locomotion on Earth. She has exhibited the BioSuit™ at the American Museum of Natural History, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Paris’ Cite des Sciences et de L’Industrie, Chicago Museum of Science + Industry, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her latest research targeting climate change seeks to accelerate understanding and possible actions to help regenerate Earth’s oceans, land and atmosphere.

In addition to holding numerous design and compression technology patents, Dr. Newman is the author of Interactive Aerospace Engineering and Design, an introductory engineering design textbook. She has published more than 300 papers in journals, supervised 90 graduate student theses and supervised and mentored over 200 undergraduate researchers.

A champion of technology, innovation, education, and the human journey to Mars, Dr. Newman, along with her partner, Guillermo Trotti, circumnavigated between 2001 and 2003, sailing 36,000 nm around the world teaching “Exploration via Space and Sea.”  An exceptional leader and advocate for diversity and inclusion, Dr. Newman has made significant contributions to the nation’s STEM initiatives by changing the conversation to include science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and design, or STEAMD. She provided critical leadership on the U.S. Interagency Policy Group on Increasing Diversity in the STEM Workforce by reducing the impact of bias led by the White House and U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The impactful final report entitled, “Reducing the Impact of Bias in the STEM Workforce: Strengthening Excellence and Innovation” provides guidance for educating, advancing and diversifying a world-class STEM workforce in the Federal Government and federally funded institutions of higher education, and for sharing lessons learned in the process.

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

Dava Newman is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Humanity Becoming Interplanetary: From Earth to Mars

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 on the technologies and missions that will enable human “boots on Mars” in the 2030s following a decade of human exploration on the moon in the 2020s. Dr. Newman highlights the latest revolutionary technologies including XR (mixed reality) and citizen science.

Exploring Space for Earth: Earth’s Vital Signs Revealed

In this fascinating talk, Dr. Newman reveals recent space science missions to Pluto and Jupiter, the discovery of thousands of exoplanets, and orbital missions to monitor Spaceship Earth. Humanity will become interplanetary and is on a journey to Mars. However, Mars is not ‘Plan B’. Spaceship Earth, our pale blue dot, is the most magnificent planet to inhabit. Earth is speaking to us – are we listening? Supercomputer visualizations implementing artificial intelligence to curate Earth Systems data are shared as well as global to local to personal actions and solutions that can help regenerate the Earth’s oceans, land and air.

Leaders: Women in STEAMD (science-technology-engineering-arts-math-design)

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that the “future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” I think the most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and to advance the kind of science, math and engineering education that will help humanity literally explore Mars. As an aerospace engineer and rocket scientist, Dr. Newman has spent her entire career dedicated to furthering STEM education. Here, she explains why she may have delivered the wrong message. “We made STEM a thing – you were either In or Out, ” she reveals. “I’d like to change the conversation. I now call it STEAMD. I bring in the arts, I bring in design – the Makers. No more filtering anyone out, but rather, we must strive for infinite diversity in infinite combinations, empowering the women leaders of tomorrow!” An inclusive, distributed leadership framework will be highlighted along with stories of untold women innovators and leaders.

Designing an Innovative Spacesuit for the Moon and Mars: Research & Development

Returning humans to the moon and venturing out to Mars provides an opportunity to do incredible science on the ground, meaning more time spent on extravehicular activity (EVA), spacewalks, or performing physically demanding tasks. This will require a lightweight, mobile space suit that will protect astronauts from the extreme environments. Dr. Newman discusses how new and innovative manufacturing methods are bringing the MIT BioSuit™ from concept to reality, allowing not only for a viable mechanical counter pressure suit, but for the first time, incorporating thermal and radiation protection into an advanced second skin spacesuit.

From Rocket Scientist and Engineer to NASA Deputy Administrator: Innovating @ NASA

The Honorable Dr. Dava Newman served as NASA Deputy Administrator (2015-2017) nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Along with the NASA Administrator, she was responsible for articulating the agency’s vision, providing overall leadership and policy direction, and representing NASA to the Executive Office of the President, Congress, heads of federal government agencies, international space agencies, and industry. She developed and implemented a strategic Innovation Framework, which served as the first comprehensive innovation strategy for a large government agency, including best practices from across government and industry; leading NASA’s novel public-private partnerships with several companies to develop new launch, spacecraft, commercial cargo and crew capabilities. Dr. Newman highlights these powerful examples of disruptive innovation.

Circumnavigation: Sailing Galatea 36,000 nm Around the Planet – Exploration via Sea & Space

Why do we explore? To answer three enduring questions: 1. Where do we come from? 2. Where are we going? and 3. Is there life elsewhere in the Universe? My personal exploration of the Earth includes sailing around the world – 2 of us on our sailboat for 18 months (s/v Galatea www.galateaodyssey.org) teaching seminars on Exploration via Sea and Space, crossing the world’s oceans, visiting 33 island nations, and making the connections between our sailing circumnavigation and space exploration. In this talk, Dr. Newman shares survival stories from living and working in isolated, confined environments and highlights what she learned  from island and indigenous cultures living in balance with nature.

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