The Honorable Dava J. Newman was elected to The Aerospace Corporation’s Board of Trustees on December 11, 2019. Dr. Newman is the Apollo Program professor of Astronautics in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as well as a Harvard–MIT Health, Sciences, and Technology faculty member. She is also a MacVicar Faculty Fellow (a chair for making significant contributions to undergraduate education) and director of the MIT Portugal Program. Previously, Newman was deputy administrator of NASA, the agency’s second-highest ranking position. Prior to that, Newman was director of the MIT Technology and Policy Program.
While serving as NASA deputy administrator from May 2015 to January 2017, Newman was responsible for articulating the agency's vision, providing leadership and policy direction, and along with the administrator, representing NASA to the executive office of the president, congress, heads of federal government agencies, international space agencies, and industry. As deputy administrator, she provided leadership and oversight for all NASA partnerships. Newman made significant impact on NASA’s human exploration efforts, specifically developing and articulating the Human Journey to Mars plan, highlighting scientific missions, advocating for transformative aeronautics capabilities, developing and implementing a strategic innovation framework, and advocating for diversity and inclusion for NASA and the nation’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives.
Newman is an expert in research with a focus on aerospace biomedical engineering, discovering how humans can perform more effectively in environments of weightlessness and reduced gravity. She is a leader in advanced spacesuit design, astronaut performance, leadership development, innovation, and space policy. Newman’s experiments have flown onboard the space shuttle; the Mir space station; and the International Space Station. Newman’s patented BioSuit™ spacesuit for planetary exploration implements form-fitting technology featuring elastic polymers and advanced materials for direct-skin mechanical counterpressure to offer enhanced mobility and a lightweight suit, compared to conventional gas-pressured spacesuits.
Newman has received many prestigious awards and honors throughout her career, including the NASA Distinguished Service Medal; the Explorer’s Club Lowell Thomas Award; elected an AIAA Fellow; the AIAA Jeffries Aerospace Medicine and Life Sciences Research Award; the Women in Aerospace Leadership Award; the Aerospace Medical Association’s Henry L. Taylor Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Aerospace Human Factors; the University of Notre Dame College of Engineering Alumni Honor Award; and the AIAA National Capital Section's Barry M. Goldwater Education Award. Newman was named a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, one of 100 extraordinary women engineers, an AIAA distinguished lecturer, and she received the National Aerospace Educator Award from the Women in Aerospace. Newman’s BioSuit™ was named by Time magazine a Best Invention of 2007. The spacesuit has been exhibited at museums around the world. A dedicated educator and passionate STEM advocate, Newman is also a frequent lecturer and a prolific writer, authoring more than 300 research publications in journals and refereed conferences. She holds numerous patents for her compression technology designs.
Newman earned her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame, a masters’ degrees in aeronautics and astronautics and technology and policy from MIT, and a Ph.D. in aerospace biomedical engineering from MIT.