(Dr.) Tanya Harrison is a Planetary Scientist and Manager of Science Programs at Planet Labs, working in their federal arm with science agencies to increase research use of Planet Labs' Earth observing satellite data. Previously she was the Director of Research at Arizona State University's Space Technology and Science Initiative, and was on the science team of the Mars Opportunity and Curiosity rovers.
At the age of five years old, Harrison watched "Big Bird in Japan" and became interested in space. She joined the Seattle chapter of The Mars Society, and attended the 3rd International Mars Society Conference in Toronto. Tanya Harrison completed her bachelor's degree in Astronomy and Physics at the University of Washington (2006), before a Masters in Earth and Environmental Sciences at Wesleyan University (2008). Harrison completed her PhD, "Global-Scale Studies of Martian Mid-Latitude Landforms" at the University of Western Ontario's Centre for Planetary Science and Space Exploration in 2016. Alongside her postgraduate studies, Harrison worked as a public outreach assistant.
Harrison's research is in martian geomorphology and terrestrial analogues, spectroscopy and glaciology.
Harrison took a break between her Bachelors and PhD. In 2008, Harrison became Assistant Staff Scientist at Malin Space Science Systems, after receiving a NASA scholarship. Here she was on the science operation team for NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. She also worked for the Mars Color Imager, the Mast Cameras and Mars Hand Lens Imager. During this time, Harrison worked on science track programming for Norwescon. Between 2010 and 2012 Harrison worked at The Planetary Society as web editor. In 2011, Harrison was part of the team that won the NASA Group Achievement Award for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. She won a second in 2013 as part of the Mars Science Laboratory Mast Camera team.
Harrison is a recipient of the Zonta Amelia Earhart Fellowship (awarded twice), the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, and Geological Society of America On to the Future Award, among others. She worked as a Research Assistant in the Centre for Planetary Science & Exploration at the University of Western Ontario.
In 2016 she won the Geological Society of America Paul Pellas-Ryder Award. That year she became a postdoctoral scholar and Director of Research of the NewSpace Initiative at Arizona State University. She worked with commercial space companies (including Blue Origin and Bigelow Aerospace). Harrison has cited NASA's Mars Pathfinder mission as one of her biggest inspirations. She was selected for Planet’s Science Ambassadors program for her work on gullies on Devon Island, Canada, as an analogue for martian gullies.
In 2017, Harrison joined a flight of scientists to watch the total solar eclipse from an airplane. She is also a professional photographer. Harrison has been involved with The Mars Society, National Space Society and Girl Scouts. She has contributed to New Scientist, Gizmodo, The Weather Network and Slate. Harrison has spoken of her struggles with harassment in the STEM workplace. She regularly appears in the public discussion of astronomy.