Newman is best known for research on form-fitting spacesuits that use mechanical counterpressure to provide greater freedom of motion for astronauts than conventional suits. "Ultimately, the big advantage is mobility, and a very lightweight suit for planetary exploration," Newman said in a Sept. 18 press release from MIT about her group's research.
She has also been involved in science and technology policy. She has a master's degree in technology and policy from MIT and since 2003 has served as director of its Technology and Policy Program.
The set will let kids take on the roles of paleontologist, astronomer and chemist, using three female figures. It might also satisfy some of the demands set forth earlier this year by Charlotte Benjamin, a 7-year-old who wrote a scathing letter to the company accusing its female characters of being boring.
"I love Legos," Charlotte wrote. But, she continued, there aren't enough girls — and the ones the company has made just "sit at home, go to the beach, and shop," while the boy characters "saved people, had jobs, even swam with sharks!"
The girl's letter attracted widespread attention — and within a week, Lego responded, saying "we have been very focused on including more female characters and themes that invite even more girls to build."