Dr Adriana Marais, theoretical physicist, Head of Innovation at SAP Africa and aspiring extraterrestrial, believes that we are living at a unique point in the history of life on Earth. Development in science and technology are taking place at an unprecedented rate, and the expansion of our society beyond this planet is within reach.  

Adriana is a regular keynote speaker at academic, corporate, educational and public events across South Africa and the world. In her presentations, she talks about her research in quantum biology and the origins of life, the technology required to sustain terrestrial life on Mars and the various projects aiming to send human missions 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.

Adriana holds a MSc – summa cum laude – in quantum cryptology 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. As Head of Innovation at SAP Africa she is passionate about exploring innovative applications of emerging technologies to challenges facing the continent.

Adriana has authored numerous academic and popular science articles on her research, and has received a range of research awards, including the global L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science award in 2015, and the Royal Society of South Africa Meiring Naude Medal in 2016. Adriana is also a faculty member of Duke Corporate Education, volunteers as a board member of the Match4Action Foundation to accelerate social impact and director of the Foundation for Space Development South Africa, an exciting initiative of which is the Africa2Moon project.

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. She is grateful for the platform she has as a scientist, innovator and Mars One candidate to inspire school children, teenagers and adults around South Africa and globally to get excited about the future, believe in their dreams and remember nelson Mandela’s words – “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

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