The Senate has approved Dava J. Newman as NASA’s new deputy administrator by an 87-0 vote. The approval comes 20 months after Lori Garver left the position for the top staff job at the Air Line Pilots Association.
Newman is a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and of engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). [Biography] The White House nominated her for the position in October.
“It’s an enormous honor to serve at NASA in times when our country is extending humanity’s reach into space while strengthening American leadership here on Earth,” Newman said in a statement. “I’m profoundly grateful to President Obama, the United States Senate, and Administrator Bolden – along with everyone at MIT. I can’t wait to come aboard.”
Newman’s research has included the development of a radical new spacesuit design that is tighter-fitting and would afford much greater mobility and lighter weight than today’s bulky pressure suits. She has focused on quantifying astronaut performance in space, including computer modeling of the dynamics of human motion in microgravity conditions. Newman has also developed exercise countermeasures, serving as principal investigator for three spaceflight experiments, and specializes in understanding partial-gravity locomotion for future planetary exploration. Her development of patented, wearable compression suits has also led her into research on assistive technologies for people with locomotion impairment.
Newman, who has been on the MIT faculty since 1993, is director of MIT’s Technology and Policy Program and MIT Portugal Program, a faculty member in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and a Margaret McVicar Faculty Fellow.
Newman earned her BS from the University of Notre Dame in 1986, followed by three graduate degrees from MIT: two SM degrees, in aeronautics and astronautics and in technology and policy, in 1989, and a PhD in aerospace biomedical engineering, in 1992. She is the author of “Interactive Aerospace Engineering and Design” (McGraw-Hill, 2002), an introductory engineering textbook, and more than 200 papers presented in journals and at refereed conferences.
In a statement, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden welcomed Newman to the space agency.
“I am delighted with the Senate confirmation of Dr. Dava Newman to be the Deputy Administrator of NASA. I am personally ecstatic to welcome her aboard at such a busy and exciting time as we continue to make extraordinary strides on our Journey to Mars,” he said.
“The strong bipartisan support Dr. Newman received in the Senate is a reflection of her well-earned reputation and renown as a global leader in science and technology research and policy,” Bolden added. “I have known and admired Dava for several decades and her talents and skills as an educator and technological innovator will bring a new energy to our NASA leadership team. Much of her research has focused on critical aspects of human space exploration. In fact, she is legendary in the aerospace universe for developing a new, lighter-weight spacesuit design that gives astronauts more mobility in space.”