New leadership for the MIT Media Lab

December 22, 2020

To the members of the MIT community,

I wanted to make sure you all heard the wonderful news, just shared by SA+P Dean Hashim Sarkis, that he has announced the selection of Professor Dava Newman to become the next director of the MIT Media Lab.

Hashim’s letter to the SA+P community – where the Media Lab is based – appears below, with a link to the announcement on MIT News.

Having been asked by Hashim to be part of the executive committee that has supported the Media Lab in its thoughtful process of self-renewal, it is especially gratifying to pass on news of this appointment. Dava’s background and experience in engineering, space and Earth science, design, and education make her an inspired choice to lead the Media Lab into its next exciting chapter.

Based on my personal knowledge of Dava – her work, her passion, and her vision – I am certain she will be a tremendous success.

Sincerely,

Maria T. Zuber, Vice President for Research


To members of the SA+P community,

After a months-long international search, it is my deep pleasure to announce the appointment of a new director for the MIT Media Lab: MIT’s own Dava Newman (SM ’89, SM ’89, PhD ’92), Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

In a field of outstanding candidates, Professor Newman stood out for her pioneering research, wide range of multidisciplinary engagements, and exemplary leadership. She is a designer, a thinker, a maker, an engineer, an educator, a mentor, a convener, a communicator, a futurist, a humanist and, importantly, an optimist. In other words, a tremendous asset to MIT and a great match for the Media Lab. She has also been an advocate for diversity in engineering and science, and inclusion will be a foundational component of her leadership of the Media Lab.

For more on Professor Newman’s appointment, see the MIT News story published today.

Many people have worked tremendously hard to bring the Media Lab to this crucial turning point. I am grateful to the search committee, whose members are listed below, for this inspiring selection. I also extend my deep appreciation to the members of the Executive Committee who have skillfully guided the Media Lab over the last 15 months: Ramona Allen, Tod Machover, Pattie Maes, Deb Roy, and Maria Zuber.

But it is the staff, students, researchers, and faculty of the Media Lab who have earned my most profound gratitude. They have worked tirelessly over the past year to build a renewed understanding of the mission and operational principles of the Lab, and in doing so, reinforced the strong sense of community that animates this remarkable place.

Please join me in welcoming Professor Newman to her new role, and wishing her and the entire Media Lab community great success in the years ahead.

Sincerely,

Hashim Sarkis
Dean, MIT School of Architecture and Planning

MIT Media Lab Director Search Committee

Pattie Maes (chair)
Professor, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, MIT (MIT Media Lab)

Mitchel Resnick
Professor, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, MIT (MIT Media Lab)

Fadel M. Adib
Assistant Professor, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, MIT (MIT Media Lab)

Danielle Wood
Assistant Professor, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, MIT (MIT Media Lab)

Nicholas de Monchaux
Professor and Head of Department of Architecture (MIT School of Architecture and Planning)

Fiona Murray
Associate Dean for Innovation and Inclusion, Co-Director MIT Innovation Initiative, William Porter (1967) Professor of Entrepreneurship, Faculty Director Legatum Center (MIT Sloan School of Management)

Devora Najjar
Research Assistant/PhD Student (MIT Media Lab)

Rebecca Reid
Assistant Financial Officer (MIT Media Lab)

Philipp Schmidt
Research staff member
Director, ML Learning Initiative (MIT Media Lab)