The U.S. Senate yesterday unanimously confirmed the appointment of MIT Professor Dava Newman as NASA deputy administrator, the agency’s number-two position. The appointment will become official when signed by President Obama.
Newman is a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and of engineering systems. On the MIT faculty since 1993, she directs the Institute’s Technology and Policy Program and MIT Portugal Program, and is co-director of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Man Vehicle Laboratory. She is a Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology faculty member, and a Margaret McVicar Faculty Fellow.
Accepting the confirmation, Newman said, “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. 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."
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “I am delighted with the Senate confirmation of Dr. Dava Newman to be the deputy administrator of NASA. 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.”
According to NASA, the deputy administrator “provides overall leadership, planning, and policy direction.” Her duties will include leading NASA governmental affairs; oversight of the agency’s offices, communications, and educational programs; and serving as the NASA representative to the multinational partnership that manages the International Space Station.
Newman received her BS from the University of Notre Dame. She earned MS degrees in aeronautics and astronautics and technology and policy in 1989 and a PhD in aerospace biomedical engineering in 1992, all from MIT.
Her research has included modeling human performance in low and micro-gravity conditions, examining the dynamics and control of astronaut motion, and the development of assisted walking devices for the physically handicapped. Perhaps her most prominent project has been development of the BioSuit, a skintight spacesuit that would give astronauts unprecedented comfort and freedom in exploration of planetary surfaces and extra-vehicular activity.
The deputy administrator position has been vacant since September 2013 when Lori Garver stepped down to accept a job with the Air Line Pilots Association.