5 Things to Know About Brad Pitt's MIT Professor Friend Neri Oxman

There appears to be a new friend in Brad Pitt’s life, and while she’s not yet a mainstream celebrity, she's without a doubt an extraordinary person. According to Page Six, Israeli MIT professor and architect Neri Oxman has been spending time with the Hollywood heartthrob in recent weeks. Pitt and Oxman are reportedly collaborating on an architecture project together (he's a furniture designer, who knew?).

Despite reports that the pair “instantly hit it off,” their relationship is solely a professional one. However, if we were to find a romantic liaison for Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor (sorry, Channing Tatum), it would certainly be the wildly impressive Oxman.

Not only is Oxman accomplished in her professional life, but she's also committed to paving the way for a new generation through teaching. Back in October, Oxman spoke with InStyle and actress Laura Dern about her work in material ecology, and what it has been like watching a new generation see women forging ahead as CEOs and scientists.

"For me, it’s been one long journey of transformation. It starts with the little things, like communicating to my female students that they don’t need to be afraid to get pregnant while they’re doing their Ph.D.’s," she said. "I encourage them to bring their kids to the lab and teach them to play with robots and to program and to celebrate knowledge."

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Scroll down below to find out more about the brilliant 42-year-old.

1. She’s an interdisciplinary Renaissance woman.

Neri does everything, basically. Architect, professor, biologist, engineer, designer … You name it. She’s collaborated with a host of unlikely professionals (ahem, Brad Pitt), including musician Bjork and fashion designer Iris van Herpen.

"Look, I went to medical school after serving in the Israeli Air Force for three years. I was sort of the rebel in the family. I loved helping people, and I thought medicine would be the perfect combination of science and human compassion. Then I entered the architecture field in my late 20s, early 30s. It took me many years of education, but I felt like I had finally found my home," she told Dern in InStyle's November issue.

"So I always tell my students: Take the long way. There are no mistakes. It’s the scenic route—that’s where all the wonder happens. And then, in terms of femininity and being a woman, I have good days and I have bad days. Because there are various environments, as I’m sure you know, that are all-boys clubs. On good days, I tune in to the qualities associated with being a woman and think about how they enrich my work and way of being. On bad days I say to myself, “Just get on with it!” Most of the time though I try to focus on just doing great work. It is only through hard work and awareness that we can truly own our identity."

In case you needed an example of Oxman’s brilliant outside the box thinking: she once designed a pavilion built by silkworms.

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2. She is frequently celebrated for her work.

Oxman is no stranger to accolades—her list of prizes rivals Pitt’s IMDb page, and includes honors like the Vilcek Prize in Design, a spot on Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business list in 2009, and about 40 other prestigious awards.

And not unlike two-time “Sexiest Man Alive” Brad Pitt, Neri was honored with a top ranking in Shalom Life’s Top 50 Hottest Jewish Women in 2014.

3. She once called Brad Pitt an idolized stereotype.

During an interview with W, Neri discussed the perceived boys club in the architecture world, explaining that male dominance is just as polarizing in other fields.

“For the same reason we have the Brad Pitts and the George Clooneys, it’s just part of human nature to idolize stereotypes,” she said. “Such singularities are useful to the common perception of heroism. This isn’t just a disease of the architecture profession; it’s a phenotype of human culture and how we develop stereotypes and perceptions.”

4. She’s an excellent public speaker.

Watch her explain the aim of her progressive work in this 2015 TED Talk.

5. Like Pitt, she was also previously married.

Oxman wed Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov in 2011. Golijov is a celebrated member of the orchestral community and a two-time Grammy winner.

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