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Tara M. Ruttley  

Space Scientist; Neuroscientist; Engineer; Archaeologist; Entrepreneur; Inventor; Aquanaut; Astronaut Finalist; Internationally-Acclaimed Speaker; Explorer

Tara M. Ruttley is an associate program scientist for the International Space Station (ISS) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Her current role consists of representing and communicating all research on the ISS, and supporting the ISS Chief Scientist’s research recommendations to NASA Headquarters.

Ruttley had wanted to work for the space program since she was a kid growing up in southern Louisiana. She worked her way up to her dream job, and has had some unique experiences along the way, but two pivotal moments mid-career made her question what else in life she was missing out on. What were her "other things"?

Ruttley is also a neuroscientist and knows that the brain literally changes when we have a new experience. We live in a limitless universe with seven different continents, nearly 200 different countries, more than 7 billion people, thousands of cultures, and hundreds of thousands of unique experiences, but mostly we stick to our daily routines. Yet even tiny new experiences can make us better able to adapt to change, overcome fear and adversity, and improve creativity. Why not try something new?

For her own good, Ruttley has been on a journey to explore beyond her routine, and now she inspires others to do the same. Whether you’re currently living your best life, or you’re stuck wondering what’s ahead, Ruttley's message resonates with everyone.

Ruttley is a dynamic, down-to-Earth, relatable speaker, and someone who is just fun to talk with. She has over a decade of experience in media appearances and has given light-hearted, informative, leadership-driven, and motivational keynotes to audiences ranging from undergraduates to career scientists and industry corporate professionals.

She pursued her B.S. degree in Biology and received an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University. In 2001, she began working for NASA as a biomedical engineer for the medical equipment and human research hardware used on the ISS.

She then completed her Ph.D. in Neuroscience and joined the ISS office, where she’s played an active role in the science activities taking place on the ISS. Ruttley has authored publications ranging from hardware design to neurological science, and also holds a U.S. utility patent.

Speech Topics

Beyond the Routine Keynote Speaker

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done? Most courageous? Most memorable? Our brains are literally rewired for the better when we try new experiences. This makes it easier for us to adapt to change and build resiliency. We are Everyday People: parents, leaders, executives, teachers, professionals, learners, introverts, and extroverts. And we all have our daily routines that work (and sometimes they just don’t!). Tara’s got stories to tell (and no, she’s never jumped out of an airplane!) and opportunities to share that will motivate you to get out and do something new, big or small, beyond your daily routine. Realize your full potential when you grow through nw experiences! You can also connect on her Facebook page and encourage each other to try new or exciting things. Maybe she will join you!

Student Motivation Keynote Speaker

Tara grew up in southern Louisiana and was the first in her family to graduate college. As an undergraduate, she stumbled upon the McNair Scholar program, who took her in and motivated her to complete her graduate degrees. Now she enjoys speaking to university students who are looking for someone who can motivate them to push through the adversity, obtain that degree and land that dream career. Tomorrow, next week, next month, next year is going to come no matter what! What will that look like for you?

Science Communication

Science is hotter than ever these days! It’s controversial, cultural, relevant, and the basis of a functional democratic society. But none of this matters if you’re speaking science-y jargon to the folks who really do want to care and want to do something with your results! Climate change, genetics, food production, health…the public wants to learn and take action but sometimes you’re just confusing them. Learn the importance of becoming a relevant story teller so that your research can impact your stakeholders: the general public, your investors/funding reviewers, congress, the media, and your grandmother! Tara has a decade of experience in speaking to audiences on complicated science topics, and has learned relevant tactics to share with her fellow science colleagues to help them lose the "so what?" gaze during conversation.


How NASA Broke The Gender Barrier In STEM | Fast Company ...

Dr. Tara Ruttley manages the science programs aboard the International Space .... "The future is bright for the founding class of Datanauts, and I'm excited to see  ...

Radiation and Boredom: Manned Mars Mission Faces Challenges

... said Tara Ruttley, a program scientist for the International Space Station (ISS). .... I'm sorry... Did you ask if NASA could remove Mars from its place in the Solar ...

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