Dava Newman

MIT Names Dava Newman as New Director of Its Media Lab

Dava Newman, a professor of aeronautic and astronautics, will replace Joi Ito, who resigned last year amid an uproar over the lab's ties to financier Jeffrey Epstein, according to the Boston Globe

New Media Lab Director Dava Newman
Dominick Reuter

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has named Dava Newman, a professor of aeronautic and astronautics and inventor of a spacesuit called the BioSuit, to direct the university's Media Lab.

Newman, 56, will replace Joi Ito, who resigned last year from both the lab and from his position as a professor amid an uproar over the lab's ties to financier Jeffrey Epstein, The Boston Globe reported. Newman will be the first woman to lead the lab.

Ito resigned after it was revealed that the lab had a more extensive fundraising relationship with Epstein than it previously acknowledged and tried to conceal the extent of the relationship. Epstein killed himself in a New York jail in Aug. 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Newman has been a faculty member at MIT since 1993. In 2015, she left for two years when she was appointed deputy administrator of NASA in 2015 under the Obama administration.

Newman said Tuesday that "it's a dream" to be chosen to lead the media lab, and said she plans to build on the lab's core strength and increase the lab's focus on health, climate change and sustainability research.

The Media Lab was founded in 1985 as an innovation center where researchers had the freedom to explore everything from sculpture and design to children's learning technology, space exploration and digital currency.

"What a magical place. It's somewhere we can have science and engineering, art, design, and it's really about emerging technologies," Newman said.

Students at MIT are protesting after revelations that the school accepted donations from Jeffrey Epstein after his conviction of a sex crime.
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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