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CREATIVE THINKER, connector, space scientist



CREATIVE THINKER, connector, space scientist

Image courtesy of Royal Ontario Museum

A talented connector of networks, Marianne has the rare experience of managing teams and collaborating at the intersection of academic, industrial, governmental, and community stakeholders. She has dedicated her career to sharing her passion for science and space exploration through innovative public engagement, participatory education, planetary science research, and science communication. Currently the Managing Director of Earth & Space / Fossils & Evolution at the Royal Ontario Museum, she leads multidisciplinary, collaborative teams with a mission to help people understand the Earth, our solar system and how life evolved over time. 

As part of her mission to make education accessible and engaging, Marianne co-founded STEAMLabs, a non-profit community makerspace. STEAMLabs is located in Toronto's Centre for Social Innovation, and acts as a creative hub where people of different ages and abilities come together to learn and create using digital fabrication, coding, and more. 

A leader in the space industry with over 13 years of research and field experience, Marianne has worked with the Canadian Space Agency, NASA, and MDA (Canada's largest space company). She has been a Visiting Lecturer at the International Space University, and her education includes a PhD in Planetary Science, MSc in Space Studies, and an MSc in Earth Sciences.

"You inspire me, Marianne!"

  - Commander Chris Hadfield  






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One of the key assets demanded of future space leaders is an understanding of and ability to transcend boundaries between diverse stakeholders. Marianne has rare experience working both within and at the intersection between space agency, academic & industrial communities.
— Nadeem Ghafoor, Vice President, Space Exploration, Canadensys









TIFF's 2016 Trek Talks included a roundtable discussion on Star Trek, and how science can inspire art and art can inspire science. - See more at: . Marianne was a featured Guest Speaker on the Bridging Science & the Arts roundtable, along with Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen and Sonny Kohli, co-founder of Cloud DX

Chris Hadfield's Generator Show

Marianne Mader and Chris Hadfield at the 2015 Generator Show

Hosted by Commander Chris Hadfield, Generator is a science-based variety show that blends knowledge, perception, music and comedy. The Toronto Generator Show debuted in 2015 with Marianne as a featured speaker where she spoke about STEAMLabs and the power of makerspaces for experiential learning. 

US Antarctic
Service Medal

Awarded in 2013 for research contributions to the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET). Marianne is one of only 3 Canadians selected for this intensive research program since in began in 1976. 

The International Space University is an educational organization located in France that develops future leaders of the global space community. Marianne was a Visiting Lecturer for the graduate level professional development Space Studies Program in 2014 and 2015. 



  • 2012: PhD Fellowship, NSERC CREATE
    • Technologies and Techniques for Earth & Space Exploration
  • 2009: Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS-D)
  • 2002: Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS-M)

Image via Chris Hadfield




A highly competitive selection process, astronauts are modern-day explorers that support space missions. Marianne progressed to the final 1% of the 2009 Canadian astronaut selection process out of a total of 5,300 applicants. 


professional service (volunteer)

  • Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto (2018)

  • Chairs and participates in national space agency review committees

  • Board Member: STEAMLabs not-for-profit (2010 - Present) 

  • Board of Advisors: Toronto Space Apps (2016 - Present)

  • Board of Advisors: SEDS-Canada (2017 - Present)

  • Founding Member: Mozilla Hive Toronto (2012 - Present) 

  • Selected Member of Founding Class (Only Canadian), NASA Datanaut Program (2015) 

  • Board Member, Board of Directors: Canadian Alumni of the ISU (2013)

  • Central Regional Director: Canadian Alumni of the ISU (2011 - 2013)

  • Canadian Representative: Yuri's Night Global Executive Team (2009 - 2013)

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planetary science at the rom

Marianne develops public engagement strategies and strives to foster curiosity through learning experiences for all ages. Finding innovative ways to share the relevance of the ROM’s collections and research, she established collaborations with the Canadian Space Agency, Col. Chris Hadfield, Toronto Maker Festival, and the Planetary Society, in addition to developing space science content for the ROM’s 1 million annual visitors through interactive, hands-on programs.

Image via Royal Ontario Museum



Curated experiences for the ROM's 2015/16 Holidays program, which attracted 60,000+ visitors over 10 days. Highlighted activities included:

  • Family Portrait: an interactive activity with a prototype Mars rover on loan from the CSA, that would 3D scan visitors in real-time.
  • Work like an astronaut: participants worked with bulky gloves to complete activities. Inspired by a pair of Russian space walking gloves from Commander Chris Hadfield’s personal collection on display, with a custom ROM video kiosk featuring Hadfield describing his experience of working in space. 
  • The public had the first-ever opportunity to engage directly with both lunar and Martian meteorites with the Walk on the Moon and Touch a piece of Mars displays

nasa osiris-rex

    Designed a comprehensive engagement strategy for the NASA OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission in collaboration with the University of Arizona and the CSA, which included:

    • A new display case in the ROM mineral gallery featuring the mission and gallery tour guides who are trained as “OSIRIS-REx Ambassadors”
    • A dedicated school visit and numerous summer camp sessions focussed on the mission.
    • A panel discussion with Canadian scientists involved in the mission shortly after the mission launch


    Marianne co-founded STEAMLabs as a non-profit community makerspace with Andy Forest, where people of all ages and abilities can come together for access to high tech tools, to learn, and to create. The STEAMLabs makerspace is located in Toronto's Centre for Social Innovation and offers full access memberships, stand-alone after school programs, weekend workshops, as well as drop-in open make times. Together with co-founder Andy Forest, Marianne set the organization's strategic direction towards a sustainable funding model. 


    • Build Your Own Rover Activity, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)

    • Rocket Launch Activity, DigiFest Toronto

    • Be a Meteorite Hunter, Toronto Space Apps Challenge 

    • Astronaut Maker Boot Camp (10 Weeks)


    I apply 21st century learning practices to inspire people, and to create
    opportunities that facilitate transformational experiences.


    Leads the highly successful ROM Game Jam initiative, which links video game creation with ROM research and collections. The ROM Game Jam initiative is a comprehensive outreach and engagement program, with a Game Jam hackathon weekend event for developers, school visits, public events and commercialization of video games. 

    Space Apps 

    Marianne is on the Advisory Board for Toronto SpaceApps Challenge, a hackathon event that invites developers, makers, engineers and entrepreneurs to take on NASA-designed challenges, creating solutions that range from silly to serious. 

    space-themed hive 'POP-UPS'

    Developed and led dynamic, "Hive Pop-Up" interactive experiences for the International Space Education Board for the 65th International Astronautical Conference (2014) and the inaugural Toronto Youth Space Apps program (2013). Worked extensively with local not-for-profit organizations as well as NASA, CSA, and 5 other national space agencies.


    Selected as a member of the NASA Datanaut Program's Founding 2015 Class (and only Canadian). The community of experts engage with each other to solve data challenges using NASA's open data in efforts to inspire innovative new thinking, processes, and products.






    public speaking

    • 2018 - Invited Speaker - Exploring Space on Earth, Queen's Space Conference (Kingston, ON)

    • 2017 - Panel Member: Changing Perceptions: Engaging the public with scientists in the era of "alternative facts", Canadian Science Policy Conference (Ottawa, ON)

    • 2017 - Panel Member - Education & Outreach: Canada’s Next Space Generation, Canadian Space Summit (Ottawa, ON)

    • 2017 - Panel Member: Public Engagement in the Space Sector, Canadian Space Policy Symposium (Ottawa, ON)

    • 2017 - Lead Presenter: Your Place, Your (Maker)Space: Which model’s the best fit for your organization?, Canadian Association of Science Centres Conference (Toronto, ON)

    • 2017 - Panel Member:  Communicating science in a Post-Truth Era, Canadian Association of Science Centres Conference (Toronto, ON)

    • 2017 -  Co-Presenter, Games in Libraries, Digital Odyssey 2017, Ontario Library Association Conference (Toronto, ON)

    • 2017 - Keynote: Punching above our weight: Increasing space outreach impact, SEDS Ascension Conference (Toronto, ON)

    • 2017 - Presenter, Museums & Planetary Missions, 48th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (The Woodlands, TX)

    • 2017, 2016 - Invited Speaker, Hunting Meteorites at the End of the World, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Mississauga & Toronto, ON)

    • 2016 - Invited Panel Member, TIFF's 2016 Trek Talks panel, included a roundtable discussion on how science can inspire art and art can inspire science.  

    • 2016 - Invited Speaker, The Maker Movement (in Museums), Toronto Maker Festival (Toronto, ON) 

    • 2016 - Keynote: Millennial Engagement: 21st Century Science Outreach, Students for the Exploration of Space & Development Conference (London, ON) 

    • 2016 - Keynote: Inspiration Space, 5th Annual 'What's Up in Space' Event (Richmond Hill, ON) 

    • 2015 - Invited Speaker, STEAMLabs Motivation, Chris Hadfield's Generator Show, Massey Hall (Toronto, ON)

    • 2015 - Lead Presenter, Planet ROM, The Planetary Society - Toronto Chapter, Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, ON) 

    • 2013 - Invited Speaker, Extreme Science: What Do We Know? Ontario Science Centre (Toronto, ON)

    Marianne speaking at Chris Hadfield' Generator Show

    conference organization

    • Technical Committee Member, Canadian Small Sat Symposium - Toronto, ON (2018)

    • Makerspace Field Trip Organizer, Canadian Science Centre Association Conference - Toronto, ON (2017)

    • Outreach Consultant: International Astronaut Congress - Toronto, ON (2014) 

    • Co-Organizer: Toronto NASA Youth Space Challenge Program (2013)

    • Member, Planning Committee: Canadian Space Summit - University of Western Ontario (2012)

    • Co-Organizer: SpaceUP TO Unconference - Centre for Social Innovation, Toronto, ON (2012) 

    • Chair, Local Organizing Committee: Canadian Space Summit - Montreal, QC (2008) 






    Now featured on

      Featured by Science Borealis as one of    100 Canadian Voices for Science Communication    -   Image by  Raymond Nakamura

    Featured by Science Borealis as one of 100 Canadian Voices for Science Communication - Image by Raymond Nakamura

      Selected as a    Kickass Canadian    - Nominated by  Evan Hadfield , son of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield

    Selected as a Kickass Canadian - Nominated by Evan Hadfield, son of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield

    STEAMLabs featured in betakit technology publication.

    Toronto's NOW Magazine featured STEAMLabs as part of Maker Festival 2016


    Space Research


    Space Research


    A multidisciplinary planetary scientist, Marianne works at the intersection between scientists, engineers, and operations team members. She has been part of Canadian space simulation mission research efforts since their inception. Her leadership roles have allowed her to test and improve scientific field instruments, train the next generation of space leaders, and liaise with key stakeholders. 


    • Science Lead: Rover Planetary Exploration Analogue MissionISU Space Studies Program, Ohio (2015) 
    • Science Co-Lead: Rover Planetary Exploration Analogue Mission, Educational space mission simulation run at the ISU Space Studies Program, Montreal (2014)
    • Mission Program Evaluator & Mission Control Logistics Coordinator: UWO Human Follow-on Analogue MissionMistastin Lake Impact Structure, Labrador (2011)
    • Mission Program Evaluator: UWO Robotic Sample Return Analogue Mission, Sudbury Impact Structure, ON (2011)
    • Backroom Science Team Member: Mars Analogue Research - Signatures of Life in Freshwater Environments, Pavilion Lake Research Project, BC (2011)
    • Field Scientist: MDA Mars Sample Return Technical DeploymentSP Crater, Arizona (2010) 
    • Field Operations Team Lead: UWO Robotic Precursor Lunar Analogue Mission, Mistastin Lake Impact Structure, Labrador (2010)
    • Researcher and Field Support: Research Affiliate, CSA Planetary Analogue Research, Axel Heiberg Island, Nunavut (2008)
    • Field Assistant, CSA Planetary Analogue Research - Haughton-Mars Project, Devon Island (2007)


    • Meteorite Hunter: Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET), Case Western Reserve University (2012 - 2013)
      • Part of an 8 person team that searched for and collected meteorites approximately 500km from the South Pole
      • Coordinated ANSMET's first Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit, which was hugely successful and featured on the front page of the popular, user-driven website


    • PhD Research: Planetary Science and Space Exploration, University of Western, London ON (2009 - 2015) 
      • Developed insights into planetary impact cratering processes using terrestrial field mapping, microscopy, structural geology mapping, GIS, and geochemical analysis
      • Collaborated with CSA, NASA, and MDA to develop and refine exploration strategies
      • Co-authored 7 publications, presented 3 reports to the CSA, gave 17 conference presentations, and co-authored 24 presentations 
    • Researcher Affiliate: Space Science, CSA, St. Hubert, QC (2008 - 2009)
      • Tested field magnetometer and portable Raman spectrometer technology in the Canadian High Arctic
      • Developed a report for the Director of Planetary Science and Space Astronomy, Canadian Space Agency outlining recommendations for operational and technical improvements of instruments
    • MSc Research: International Space University, Strasbourg, France (2006 - 2007) 
      • As a Team Project Manager, led a 20-person team investigating how space technology can assist archaeological preservation. Facilitated partnerships with researchers and UNESCO. 
      • Resulted in the creation of an educational web-based tool
    • Environmental Analyst: International Environmental Management Co., Bangkok, Thailand (2005 - 2006) 
      • Selected out of  400 Canadian applicants for placement
      • Prepared environmental impact assessments and translated geological data for non-technical audiences
    • MSc Research: Earth Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John’s, NL (2000 - 2005)
      • Developed a new tectonic model for an Archean greenstone belt in SW Greenland, supporting the discovery of the oldest meymechitic rocks on earth







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