Dr. Tara Ruttley, Space Scientist and Explorer

Tara Ruttley
Speaking Fee: $10,000 to $20,000

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Tara Ruttley At A Glance:

Tara Ruttley, PhD is a keynote speaker who empowers others to better adapt to any situation by helping them understand how their brains process novelty. She combines her NASA experience in human space exploration and neuroscience to teach her audiences how to rewire their brains in fun ways to embrace their biggest challenges. She also shares the secrets of successful leadership, NASA-style. Tara was at NASA from 2001-2022, and now she is Chief Scientist of Orbital Reef at Blue Origin. She holds degrees in Biology, Mechanical Engineering, Neuroscience, and Anthropology-Archaeology, and has authored publications ranging from engineering to archaeology and holds a US Utility patent.

Tara Ruttley, PhD is a keynote speaker who empowers others to better adapt to any situation by helping them understand how their brains process novelty. She combines her NASA experience in human space exploration and neuroscience to teach her audiences how to rewire their brains in fun ways to embrace their biggest challenges. She also shares the secrets of successful leadership, NASA-style.

Dr. Ruttley is currently Blue Origin’s Chief Scientist for the developing space station, Orbital Reef. Prior to joining Blue Origin, she spent 20 years at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) designing, managing, and communicating about science and exploration activities for the International Space Station (ISS).

Combining her love for Biology and human spaceflight, Dr. Ruttley completed her BS degree in Biology and an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University before beginning her NASA career at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in 2001. There, she joined as an engineer, designing the medical equipment and human research hardware used on the ISS. She concurrently pursued her PhD in Neuroscience and then joined the ISS Program Science Office, where she managed and communicated about ISS science activities as ISS Associate Program Scientist. After almost two decades at JSC, Dr. Ruttley and her family moved to Washington, DC, where she joined NASA’s Chief Scientist Office as NASA’s Associate Chief Scientist for Microgravity Research. In 2022, she left NASA to join Blue Origin to lead the development of Orbital Reef’s science strategy.

Dr. Ruttley also completed a MA degree in Anthropology-Archaeology from the University of Houston, where her research was on the role of religion in slavery and social control on US plantations prior to the Civil War. She has authored publications ranging from hardware design to neurological science, and holds a U.S. utility patent. She’s been an astronaut selection finalist, and she’s a frequent speaker for topics ranging from science to leadership.

  • 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 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 new experiences!
  • 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 taught her how to compete for entry to graduate school. Now she enjoys speaking to university students and young women and girls in STEAM 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?
  • Leadership Principles from Spaceflight

    Tara gets asked pretty often: how do NASA leaders do the hard things? There are five specific characteristics of NASA leaders that create the culture of safety, integrity, excellence, teamwork, and inclusion in the space family. Tara shares these characteristics along with stories and examples from her 20+ years working in the International Space Station program, where resource management and collaboration are fundamental to this successful international endeavor.
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