Dr. Dava Newman
MIT Apollo Professor of Astronautics & Former NASA Deputy Administrator
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. Her research expertise is in multidisciplinary aerospace biomedical engineering investigating human performance across the spectrum of gravity. She is a leader in advanced space suit design, dynamics and control of astronaut motion, leadership development, innovation and space policy.
Newman was the principal investigator on 4 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 on board the Russian Mir Space Station from 1996–1998. Dr. 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. Recently, she co-founded EarthDNA with partner Guillermo Trotti to accelerate solutions for spaceship Earth’s Ocean, Land and Air subsystems by curating near-space satellite data to make the world work for 100% of humanity. 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 2015–2017, 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. Dr. 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.
Recent honors include: Lowell Thomas Award Winner, Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, AIAA Fellow, AIAA Jeffries Aerospace Medicine and Life Sciences Research Award, Women in Aerospace Leadership Award, the Aerospace Medical Association’s Henry L. Taylor Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Aerospace Human Factors among others. Newman’s BioSuit™ has been exhibited at the Venice Biennial, American Museum of Natural History, Victoria and Albert and Museum, The Paris Sciences and Industry Museum, and Metropolitan Museum of Art.
She serves on multiple aerospace, technology and education boards. 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 of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame.