Tanya Harrison

AGU Board of Directors

Director I


Director of Strategic Science Initiatives, Planet Labs, PBC, Washington, D.C., USA

AGU embraces the global community and welcomes diverse leaders from around the world, representing various identities, voices, and perspectives. List any identities, voices, and perspectives you would bring, including but not limited to nationality, regional representations, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and any other identity you feel comfortable sharing.

I am a queer woman with a physical disability (ankylosing spondylitis). For years on Twitter, I have been very open about how having a physical disability has impacted both my personal and professional life as a geoscientist. It’s not a field that has traditionally been very inclusive to people with physical limitations, and so I think representation is extremely important so that students with disabilities can see that the geosciences are indeed an option for them.

Volunteer experience that relates to this position:

I am the co-founder of the Zed Factor Fellowship (ZFF), providing internships in aerospace for historically excluded groups. ZFF is a 501c(3), and all of us involved are solely volunteers. Additionally, I have been a member of the Board of Advisors for the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) for 2.5 years and an Advisor to the Space Generation Advisory Council’s Ethics and Human Rights Project Group.


The AGU strategic plan presents a bold and visionary direction for the organization. Board members must work together with each other, other volunteer leaders, and staff to play a key role in implementing the plan. What are the key features of the strategic plan that you find most exciting? What features do you think will be most challenging? As a Board member how would you partner with others to implement the strategic plan?

For the goal of catalyzing discovery, I like the term “solution-based science” and the focus on transdisciplinary work. Science can’t be siloed if it is to be the most effective. For the goal of inclusivity, respecting Indigenous Knowledge is also something fantastic to see called out in the strategic plan, as it has been excluded from the scientific lexicon for far too long. Increasing diversity, inclusion, and equity is important, but as a person with a disability I’d encourage AGU to add “accessibility” to the list. While some feel disability falls under “inclusion,” it is often left out of the discussion, and so highlighting it is important. For the goal of broad partnerships, noting the need to address societal challenges faced as an impact of the discoveries our field has made in areas like climate change is also good to see. Discovery isn’t enough—we need to work as a community to turn scientific knowledge into broader societal action. This will likely be the most challenging aspect of the strategic plan to achieve due to its scope. The key will be finding the right groups and crafting the most impactful messaging for each group with which we need to communicate.