Cosmic Explorer Dava Newman

By Liam Farrell

In retrospect, it makes sense that Dava Newman ’86 grew up in what’s called “Big Sky Country.”

Not only because the aerospace biomedical engineer has built a career on the innovations needed to explore the stars that shine brightly over her native Montana. But also because of the scale of her ambition and her confidence that human cooperation and ingenuity have all the potential — today, right now — to land human beings on Mars and address the ravages of climate change on Earth.

Her daily task? “To reach human potential,” she says. “Reaching for that audacious, almost impossible goal.”

Newman has spent the last two years as director of the MIT Media Lab, a legendary interdisciplinary research unit that fosters freethinking collaboration between faculty and students on everything from robotics and computer programming to music and smart prostheses.

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