Danielle Wood reflects on participating on the Media Lab panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2018
It was gratifying to see a room full of eager scientists, creators, and storytellers celebrating with us the ways that the Media Lab helps create the future, as well as the ways science fiction helps us envision the future we should create. I dedicated my first Comic-Con panel presentation to actress and activist Nichelle Nichols, who originated the role of Lt. Uhura on Star Trek. I was fortunate to meet Nichelle in 2011 while attending a NASA student conference in honor of the final Space Shuttle Launch. It was then I learned that Nichelle is not only a trailblazing actress who was one of the first black women to portray a technical professional on a popular television show. She was also a civil rights activist who helped NASA recruit the first minority astronauts. Nichelle helped us envision and create a future in which people of all races explore space.
During our Comic-Con panel, I introduced the work of my research group, Space Enabled, at the MIT Media Lab. The mission of Space Enabled is to advance justice in Earth’s complex systems using designs enabled by space. Our message is that technology from space can support the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals; however, more work is needed to make space technology more accessible and affordable. The Space Enabled research group brings together six disciplines to create space applications for development, including design thinking, art, social science, complex systems modeling, satellite engineering, and data science.