Over the Moon
Space is hardly the final frontier for peripatetic scientist Dava Newman.
Dava Newman, an MIT professorÂ and director of the schoolâ€™s technology and policy program, lives and breathes exploration. Whether orbiting the earth on the space shuttle, designing a biomedical â€śsecond skinâ€ť for children with cerebral palsy, or simply playing the bongos, sheâ€™s always seeking novel ways to do things. Take the aeronautics and astronautics specialistâ€™s signature breakthrough, the Bio-Suit: The light, flexible astronaut garment is now on exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Even when on sabbatical, Newman has trouble sitting still. Sheâ€™s currently taking five months to sail from Marblehead to Guatemala, with stops in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and the Bay Islands. â€śPlease excuse all of the typos, and itâ€™d be great if you can correct them,â€ť she writes to me while aboard the vessel. â€śI only have my iPad, and we are rocking and rolling out here in about 10-foot seas.â€ť
Where does this lifelong voyager find inspiration? Scroll down the slideshow below to find out.
1.Â Newmanâ€™s Boat, Galatea
On her last sabbatical, in 2002, Newman and her partner, architect Guillermo Trotti, sailed around the world for 18 months, visiting 33 different island nations and teaching thousands of students about science, technology, and global change. â€śExploration of space, sea, and self is where I find my highest inspiration,â€ť she says.
2. Twentieth-century Artists
The arts, says Newman, are just as important as science, technology, and engineering in the American educational system. Some of her favorite artists? Picasso (pictured),Â Le Corbusier, and Issey Miyake, among others.
Newman used the muscles in a giraffeâ€™s neck as a model when designing her skin-tight Bio-Suit, which aids circulation and applies even pressure to an astronautâ€™s body. Weighing in at just 44 pounds, her space suit is substantially lighter than the 300-pound conventional one.
4.Â Vanuatu, the San Blas Islands, and Cocos Islands
These remote South Pacific locales are theÂ well-traveled scientistâ€™s favorite escapes. Newman is also fond of Patagonia, part of which is in Trottiâ€™s home country of Argentina.
5.Â Engineering Software
Want to know what makes an engineerâ€™s heart go pitter-patter? Just say the words Matlab (technical computing), Catia (3-D computer-aided design), and Santos Human (an avatar that simulatesÂ human motion).
6.Â Her pupils
Newman oversees about 125 graduate students, and supervises 10 aerospace and biomedical engineering graduate students and postdocs at MIT. Their research ranges from studying musculo-skeletal physiological deconditioning of astronauts to building biomedical devices that enhance locomotion on earth. â€śI love the students in the program who want to change the worldâ€”they are accomplishing that one personÂ at a time,â€ťÂ Newman says.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2012/03/over-the-moon-dava-newman/