Professor Danielle Wood

Director of the Space Enabled Research Group Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Professor Danielle Wood joins the Media Lab as assistant professor in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences as of January 2018. Within the Media Lab, Prof. Wood leads the Space Enabled Research Group which seeks to advance justice in earth’s complex systems using designs enabled by space. Prof. Wood is a scholar of societal development with a background that includes satellite design, earth science applications, systems engineering, and technology policy for the US and emerging nations. In her research, Prof. Wood applies these skills to design innovative systems that harness space technology to address development challenges around the world. Prof. Wood’s research also develops systems analysis tools to improve decision making during the design of complex systems. Most recently, Prof. Wood worked as the Applied Sciences Manager within the Earth Science Division of Goddard Space Flight Center. Previously, she served as Special Assistant and Advisor to the Deputy Administrator at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Prior to working at NASA, Prof. Wood held positions at the Aerospace Corporation, Johns Hopkins University, and the United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs. Prof. Wood studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned a PhD in engineering systems, SM in aeronautics and astronautics, SM in technology policy, and SB in aerospace engineering.

Presentation abstract

Professor Danielle Wood leads the new Space Enabled Research Group at the MIT Media Lab. The Space Enabled Research Group advances justice and development by improving designs for complex systems. Our designs are enabled by space capabilities such as earth observation, microgravity, and systems engineering. We design in collaboration with communities that are improving their use of complex systems in public service sectors such as environment, public health, education, and law enforcement. Our research follows a four-step cycle of observation, explanation, co-design, and evaluation of complex systems, using methods from engineering and social science. At each step, we learn from our partner communities – especially from the poor, racial minorities, displaced peoples, forced laborers, and indigenous peoples – as they pursue greater empowerment through improved public services. Prof. Wood will explain her research on space activity in emerging nations and the opportunities to use space to enhance lives around the world.