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Mary Roach        

TED Speaker & Author Known for "Packing For Mars"

Mary Roach grew up in a small house in Etna, New Hampshire. Roach graduated from Wesleyan in 1981 and moved San Francisco, where she spent a few years working as a freelance copy editor before landing a half-time PR job at the San Francisco Zoo. Roach's office was in a trailer next to Gorilla World. On the days when she wasn't taking calls about elephant wart removal surgery or denying rumors that the cheetahs had been sucked dry by fleas, she wrote freelance articles for the local newspaper's Sunday magazine. Eventually, her editors there moved on to bigger things and took Roach along with them.

Roach mostly write books these days but still writes the occasional magazine piece. These have run in Outside, National Geographic, New Scientist, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine, as well as many others. A 1995 article of hers called "How to Win at Germ Warfare" was a National Magazine Award Finalist, and in 1996, Roach's article on earthquake-proof bamboo houses took the Engineering Journalism Award in the general interest magazine category. Roach often writes about science and review books for The New York Times.

Her first book, "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers," was an offshoot of a column she had written for She is also the author of "Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife," "Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex," "Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void," and her most recent release, "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal."

Roach is also a TED speaker, and her TED Talk, "10 Things You Didn't Know About Orgasm," is listed as one of the most popular talks of all time with over 30 million views.

Speech Topics

Packing for Mars

Space is the most hostile environment there is, which is perhaps why we are so fascinated with it. Why would anyone aspire to be an astronaut? How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? Or smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of startlingly bizarre space simulations.

As Mary Roach discovered, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth. With her trademark witty candor, Roach says that she set out to humanize aeronautics, a topic that tends to maintain a sense of steely nobility. She tells us the things you won’t hear from NASA…from liquor cabinets in space to zero gravity bathroom procedures.


Mary Roach’s new book ‘Grunt’ delivers the intel behind military innovations
Whether she’s riding NASA’s “vomit comet” or having sex in an ultrasound machine, New York Times best-selling author and science writer Mary Roach is willing to put herself in the line of fire in the name of knowledge. With her latest book...
Dominican welcomes Roach to Leadership Lecture Series ...
But science author Mary Roach accomplished both of those tasks so well that she was named The One Book One Marin 2013 award winner for her “Packing for ...

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