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White House nominates AeroAstro Professor for top NASA position

Dava Newman PhD ’92, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Housemaster of Baker House, was recently nominated by President Obama to be NASA’s deputy administrator.

Deputy administrator is NASA’s second highest leadership position. According to NASA’s website, the deputy administrator “represents NASA to the Executive Office of the President, Congress, heads of federal and other appropriate government agencies, international organizations, and external organizations and communities.” Newman’s appointment is awaiting approval by the U.S. Senate.

Newman has been on the MIT faculty since 1993. She currently serves as the director of MIT’s Technology and Policy Program as well as the MIT Portugal Program. She is a faculty member in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and a Margaret McVicar Faculty Fellow. Newman earned three graduate degrees from MIT: two SM degrees in 1989, one in aeronautics and astronautics and the other in technology and policy, then a PhD in 1992 in aerospace biomedical engineering, according to MIT News.

Newman’s research at MIT has included the development of a new spacesuit design that weighs less and provides a tighter fit to facilitate mobility. In addition, she has focused on computer modeling of human motion in conditions of very low gravity, as well as traveling in partial-gravity conditions for future planetary exploration. She has served as principle investigator for three spaceflight experiments.

“I love NASA’s portfolio, and what it’s tasked to do for the nation: pushing the boundaries and leading in aeronautics and space — aircraft, space, planetary and earth sciences, exploration, technology development, and education,” Newman told MIT News. “I look forward to doing the best work I can, to applying myself 100 percent, to learning a lot, and to advancing our national aerospace goals.”

—Alexandra Delmore