About Dr. Harrison

Tanya Harrison with the Canadian Space Agency's Mars Exploration Science Rover (MESR)

Dr. Tanya Harrison, an acclaimed planetary scientist, author, and passionate advocate for space exploration, has captivated audiences around the globe with her unparalleled expertise and contagious enthusiasm. With a unique blend of scientific acumen and captivating storytelling, Dr. Harrison takes her audiences on an awe-inspiring journey through the mysteries of the cosmos, instilling a sense of wonder and igniting the flame of possibility within each listener.

From a young age, Dr. Harrison’s insatiable curiosity about the universe propelled her to pursue a path that would break barriers and challenge the limits of human knowledge. A trailblazer in her field, she earned her doctorate in planetary science from Canada’s prestigious University of Western Ontario, distinguishing herself as a leading authority on Mars. Her groundbreaking research and contributions to NASA’s Mars missions have reshaped our understanding of the Red Planet and propelled humanity closer to unlocking the secrets of our celestial neighbours.

Beyond her scholarly accomplishments, Dr. Harrison possesses a unique talent for translating complex scientific concepts into accessible narratives that engage and inspire audiences from all walks of life. She has graced prestigious stages and captivated thousands, delivering unforgettable keynote addresses, a TEDx talk, and panel discussions that leave a lasting impact. Her powerful storytelling, coupled with her ability to connect with diverse audiences, has made her a rising star in the realm of public speaking.

Dr. Harrison’s thought-provoking presentations not only elucidate the wonders of space exploration, but also ignite a deep sense of hope and possibility within her listeners. With her unwavering belief in the power of human ingenuity and perseverance, she encourages individuals to dream big, set audacious goals, and embrace the challenges that come with pushing the boundaries of knowledge. Driven by an unyielding passion for exploration, she inspires others to unlock their own potential and seize the opportunities that lie before them.

Recognized for her expertise, Dr. Harrison has been featured in numerous media outlets, including BBC, National Geographic, NPR, CBC, and Al Jazeera. Her infectious enthusiasm has garnered her a substantial following on social media, where she engages with millions of avid science enthusiasts, sharing her profound insights and fostering a vibrant community of aspiring explorers.

As a thought leader and advocate for inclusivity, Dr. Tanya Harrison is committed to breaking down barriers and ensuring that the excitement of space exploration is accessible to all. Her dedication to empowering women, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups in STEM fields has earned her accolades and made her a sought-after mentor and role model for aspiring scientists around the world. She is the co-founder of the Zed Factor Fellowship, connecting students from historically excluded backgrounds in aerospace with paid internship opportunities, and a mentor for the Brooke Owens Fellowship for women and gender minorities in aerospace. In 2023 she was inducted into The Explorer’s Club on the EC50 list for her work in expanding the definition of what it means to be an “explorer” as a queer woman with a physical disability.

Dr. Harrison’s transformative impact as a public speaker transcends borders, inspiring audiences globally to dream beyond the confines of our planet. Through her compelling presentations, she instils a sense of wonder, encouraging individuals to embrace the unknown, push boundaries, and ultimately forge a future where humanity’s quest for knowledge knows no bounds.

Book Dr. Tanya Harrison for your next event, and experience the electrifying blend of scientific expertise, captivating storytelling, and inspirational vision that has made her one of the most sought-after public speakers of our time. Unleash the power of possibility and embark on a transformative journey that will leave your audience enlightened, inspired, and ready to reach for the stars.

For TV appearances, Tanya is represented by Past Preservers.

Academic Biography

Dr. Tanya Harrison is the Co-Founder and CEO of the Earth and Planetary Institute of Canada (EPIC). She has worked as a scientist and mission operations specialist on multiple NASA missions to Mars, including the Opportunity, Curiosity, and Perseverance rovers, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and is now a Co-Investigator on the Canadian Space Agency’s lunar rover mission. Bridging worlds, as well as sectors in the space ecosystem, Tanya was previously the Director of Strategic Science Initiatives, and later Director of Science for Impact, at the Earth observation satellite and data company Planet Labs, and the Director of Research for Arizona State University’s NewSpace Initiative. In addition to her role at EPIC, she is currently a Fellow of the University of British Columbia’s Outer Space Institute

Committed to fostering the next generation of space professionals, Tanya is active in mentorship, education, and outreach initiatives. She serves on the Board of Advisors for Explore Mars and Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), and the Board of Directors for the American Geophysical Union. She is also a co-founder of the Zed Factor Fellowship, an initiative to increase diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in the aerospace sector through paid internship opportunities, mentorship, and community engagement for those from historically excluded backgrounds in STEM. 

Tanya holds a Ph.D. in Geology with a Specialization in Planetary Science and Exploration from the University of Western Ontario. There, her research focused on the formation and evolution of features on Mars called gullies, and what they can tell us about the recent climate history of the Red Planet. She also holds a Masters in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Wesleyan University where she studied spectroscopy of hydrated minerals on Mars, and a B.Sc. in Astronomy and Physics from the University of Washington where she studied the metallicity of star clusters and recurring novae systems. Her honours include two NASA Group Achievement Awards, the Amelia Earhart Fellowship for women in aerospace and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, Canada’s most prestigious doctoral award. She was also named one of Via Satellite’s Young People to Watch of 2018, and a Future Space Leader in 2019.  

Outside of her life in space, Tanya is also a professional photographerpublic transit enthusiast, and chronic creative. She currently resides in Ottawa, Ontario, where she can usually be found with a camera and NASA stickers in hand. You can find her prolifically posting about all things Mars, space, and Canada on TwitterInstagramLinkedIn, and YouTube.

Complete academic CV available here.