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Head of Innovation at SAP Africa & MARS One Candidate

The allure of the unknown is far more powerful than the comfort of the known.

Dr Adriana Marais will be in Australia and New Zealand from 16-31 October 2019 and is available for local speaking engagements.

Dr Adriana Marais, physicist, innovator and aspiring extraterrestrial, believes that we are living at a unique point in the history of life on Earth. Developments in science and technology are taking place at an unprecedented rate, and the expansion of our society beyond this planet is within reach. She talks about the origins of life, the technology required to live on Mars and the projects working towards sending crews there. She describes how the establishment, and potential discovery of evidence of, life on Mars, would be one of the most profound possible contributions of science to humanity. And the steps we are taking to make this a reality.

Current Work:

As Head of Innovation at SAP Africa since 2017, she is passionate about exploring innovative applications of emerging technologies to challenges facing the continent. She is currently pursuing a second PhD in economics designing a resource-based economic model facilitating sustainable expansion beyond Earth. As director at the Foundation for Space Development South Africa she is driving an overwinter Antarctic off-world simulation experiment for 2020.

Since childhood, Adriana has dreamed of living on another planet, and is currently one of the 100 Mars One Project astronaut candidates in the running to move to the red planet in the next decade. As a scientist, technologist and astronaut candidate, as well as a faculty member at the Singularity University and Duke Corporate Education, her mission is to inspire children and adults around the world to get excited about the future, believe in their dreams and remember Nelson Mandela’s words “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.

Previous Experience:

Education: Adriana has a background in physics and holds an MSc (summa cum laude) in quantum cryptography and a PhD in quantum biology. Her postdoctoral research focused on quantum effects in photosynthesis as well as the origins of prebiotic molecules and life itself.

Research & Awards: She has authored numerous academic & public articles on her research, and has received a range of research awards, including a L’Oreal-UNESCO International Rising Talent Award 2015, and the Royal Society of South Africa Meiring Naude Medal 2016. In 2016 she was selected as a Global Women’s Forum Rising Talent for growing influence in the economy and society.



  • Sustainability


  • Science & Technology
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