MIT professor Neri Oxman: 7 things to know

Reports say that Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Neri Oxman has a budding friendship and possible romance with actor Brad Pitt, but there's more to the designer and architect than that.

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Here are five things to know about the award-winning designer, artist and architect.

She leads a research group at MIT

Not only is Oxman an architect and designer, but she founded and leads the Mediated Matter research group at MIT. The group researches architecture as it crosses over with biology, materials and design. Oxman is also an associate professor of media arts and sciences at the university.

Both of her parents are architects

Born in Haifa, Israel, Oxman told CNN she learned early on to appreciate architecture.

“I grew up in a modernist house, in a modernist culture. There was a love for modernism everywhere – the furniture, the books, the food, even the cutlery,” she said.

She is a pioneer in design

Oxman is credited with creating the term material ecology, which looks at the make up of material as inseparable from parts of a design. She has pioneered the field, according to her official website. "In this approach, products and buildings are biologically informed and digitally engineered by, with and for, Nature," her website says. Oxman has frequently used 3-D printing in her work as an artist, which has been placed in museums around the world.

She has collaborated with people in creative industries for her work

In an interview with W Magazine, Oxman said she likes to bring different fields together. She's worked with singer Bjork and fashion designer Iris van Herpen in the past.

“I am equally fascinated and awed by visiting an Alexander McQueen show as I am looking under a microscope,” she said. “And this same level of intrigue visits me when I take on design journeys. I don’t think of fashion as fashion, or biology as biology. I don’t separate architecture, design or culture. What’s more important is a language of creativity that carries meaning.”

She dropped out of medical school 

"It was one day, I remember it clearly – it was a hot day in Jerusalem, and I left class and called my father and announced to my parents I was going to leave medical school," Oxman told CNN in 2012. "I don't think I would have made for a good doctor. It was not meant to be, and it took me a long time to realize that."

She has been married before

Oxman, who is intensely private about her personal life, married Aegentine composer Osvaldo Golijov in 2011. The two have since split, but it is not clear when. Oxman has previously said Golijov's music had an influence over her work.

She connected with Pitt over design and architecture

According to reports, Oxman met Pitt through an MIT architecture project. Pitt, an architecture enthusiast, has a "professional friendship" with Oxman, according to an unnamed source for Page Six.

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