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Tara Ruttley          

Associate Chief Scientist for Microgravity Research at NASA Headquarters; Aquanaut

Tara Ruttley, Ph.D., is currently the associate chief scientist for Microgravity Research at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Her role consists of representing and communicating the biological and physical science research that’s happening on Low Earth Orbit platforms such as the International Space Station, and supporting NASA’s Chief Scientist in developing research recommendations for the agency as NASA plans to return humans to the moon.

Combining her love for biology and human spaceflight, she earned a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Colorado State University. Upon completion of her master's degree, she began her career at NASA at the Johnson Space Center in 2001, where she was hired as a biomedical engineer for the medical equipment and human research hardware used on the ISS. While working as an engineer, she concurrently pursued her Ph.D. in neuroscience and then joined the ISS Program Science Office, where she spent over a decade playing an active role in managing, evaluating, and communicating ISS science activities before moving to NASA Headquarters in 2019.

Ruttley has diverse academic interests, having recently completed a master's degree in anthropology-archaeology from the University of Houston, where her research was on the role of religion in slavery and social control on U.S. plantations prior to the Civil War.

Ruttley has authored publications ranging from hardware design to neurological science and holds a U.S. utility patent.

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.

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.

News


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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