President Barack Obama has announced that he will nominate two MIT alumnae for key posts within his administration.
Michelle Lee ’89, SM ’89 will be nominated as the Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Professor Dava Newman SM ’89, SM ’89, PhD ’92 will be nominated as the Deputy Administrator for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Both appointments require approval of the U.S. Senate.
If Lee is confirmed, she would be the first woman and first person of color to lead the USPTO. A Course 6-1 and Course 6A major at MIT, she has overseen the USPTO’s day-to-day operations since she was appointed deputy director in January 2014.
According to the Washington Post, the USPTO is an integral part of the future of innovation in the United States, and plays an enormous role in creating new products, jobs, and other economic opportunities.
“Obama nominates former Google exec to lead U.S. Patent Office,” Washington Post:
“In Lee’s appointment, the tech industry gets someone with deep industry credibility, including MI. degrees in electrical engineering and computer science and several years as a Google lawyer, while the 20 years she spent as a patent attorney is expected to please other stakeholders.”
Prior to the USPTO, Lee served as deputy general counsel and head of patent strategy at Google from 2003-2012. In addition to her degrees from MIT, she earned a juris doctorate from Stanford Law School.
Upon confirmation, Newman, an MIT professor of aeronautics and astronautics and of engineering systems, will assume NASA’s number two leadership position. Her MIT research includes the development of a lightweight, tight-fitting spacesuit that gives astronaut greater mobility than previous designs.
According to MIT News, the deputy administrator’s duties include NASA’s legislative and intergovernmental affairs; communications; the Mission Support Directorate; and relationships with other space organizations.
“Dava Newman nominated for NASA post,” MIT News:
“(Newman) has focused on quantifying astronaut performance in space, including computer modeling of the dynamics of human motion in microgravity conditions. Newman has also developed exercise countermeasures, serving as principal investigator for three spaceflight experiments, and specializes in understanding partial-gravity locomotion for future planetary exploration.”
Newman has served on the MIT faculty since 1993. She is director of MIT’s Technology and Policy Program and MIT Portugal Program, and a faculty member in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. In addition to her MIT degrees, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.