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 photographer, public 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 Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.