Dava Newman

Expertise: Aerospace Biomedical Engineering: Control, Dynamics, and Biomechanics; Advanced EVA; Space Life Sciences; Human Factors Engineering
Affiliation: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Certification/Education: University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 1986 B.S. Aerospace Engineering
MIT, Cambridge, MA 1989 S.M. Aerospace Engineering
MIT, Cambridge, MA 1989 S.M. Technology & Policy
MIT, Cambridge Ph.D. MA Aerospace Biomedical Engineering

BASALT Research Objectives

Exploration field investigation to enhance scientific return. Specifically to simulate realistic EVA and implement advanced heads-up display helmet systems; reconfigurable PLSS, and suit joint stiffness.


Dr. Dava Newman is a Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at MIT and affiliate faculty in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program. She is also a MacVicar Faculty Fellow (a chair for making significant contributions to undergraduate education); Director of the Technology and Policy Program at MIT; and Director of the MIT–Portugal Program. Dr. Newman specializes in investigating human performance across the spectrum of gravity. She was Principal Investigator (PI) for the Space Shuttle Dynamic Load Sensors (DLS) experiment that 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 to study human adaptation on the International Space Station (ISS). She is the MIT PI for the ISS Skinsuit technology demonstration to fly aboard Station in Fall 2015 through ESA’s sponsorship. She is an expert in the areas of extravehicular activity (EVA), human movement, physics-based modeling, biomechanics, energetics and human-robotic cooperation. Her finite element modeling work provided NASA the first three-dimensional representation of bone loss and loading applicable for long-duration missions. Active research includes advanced EVA spacesuits, PLSS and helmet design, and biomedical devices to enhance locomotion implementing wearable sensors. Her advanced spacesuit exoskeleton innovations are now being applied to “soft suits” to study and enhance locomotion on Earth for children with Cerebral Palsy. Dr. Newman has over 200 research publications, including an Engineering Design text and CDROM (2002).