Adriana Marais

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Adriana Marais
TEDxCapeTown 2015 - Behind The Scenes - Adriana Marais.png
Marais at TedxCapeTown 2015
EducationUniversity of Cape Town
Alma materUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal
Known forProjects encouraging STEM
Scientific career
FieldsQuantum cryptography
Quantum biology
InstitutionsCentre for Quantum Technologies
SAP South Africa
Foundation for Space Development

Adriana Marais is a South African theoretical physicist, quantum cryptographer, and quantum biologist. She is director of the Foundation for Space Development, South Africa,[2] an organisation that aims to inspire children in Third World countries via education and science. Marais is the founder of Proudly Human: Off-World.[1][3]

She was of four South Africans[4] chosen in the third round of astronaut candidate selection for Mars One[5][6] and was awarded the 2015 L'Oreal-UNESCO International Rising Talent Award.[7]

Education and career[edit]

Marais completed a BScHons 1st class (theoretical physics) at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2004, followed by an MSc summa cum laude (quantum cryptography) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in 2010. She was awarded a PhD (quantum biology) from UKZN in 2015 for her research on quantum effects in photosynthesis as well as the origins of prebiotic molecules and life itself. She enrolled at UCT in 2019 as a PhD candidate in economics with a focus on economics in resource constrained environments.[8][9]

In 2005, she spent time as an English teacher in Fukuoka, Japan, followed by a position as lecturer at UKZN from 2007 - 2013. During this time, she was a visiting researcher at the Centre for Quantum Technologies, Singapore, from 2011 - 2012.[10]

From 2017-2019, she was Head of Innovation at SAP South Africa and in 2018 she joined the faculty of Singularity University.[8] In 2019, Marais founded Proudly Human, also called #Proudly Human: Off-World: Above and Beyond. The organisation promotes the importance of being part of "proudly human" teams that work both efficiently and wisely with the resources on Earth.[1]

She is a member of the South African government advisory task team on the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), the combination of hardware, software, and biology with a focus on communication and connectivity.[11] In 2018, she was the keynote speaker at the South African Technology Network's international conference held in Durban, South Africa, which was focused on the 4IR and where she discussed the ways in which technologies developed for a human settlement on Mars could be applied to help Earth deal with population growth and urbanisation.[12]

Mars One[edit]

In 2013, Marais volunteered to be one of the 100 candidate astronauts on the Mars One project, a privately funded attempt to send 24 people to Mars in 2026. Marais had completed the third round of selection[4] but the project was cancelled in 2019.[13]

Foundation for Space Development[edit]

Marais became co-director of the Foundation for Space Development in 2017, with Carla Sharpe and Khutšo Ngoasheng. The organisation aims to inspire children in Third World countries via education and science; encourages technological research in areas including survival in harsh environments (such as other planets), space research, AI and robotics and open source communication technologies. Other areas of interest include Asteroid mining; disaster management projects based on a geo-magnetic solar climate model; and other uses for big data in space.[14]

Membership and recognition[edit]

Marais has received several awards, including:

Personal life[edit]

In 2016, Marais participated in the Two Oceans 56km Ultramarathon.[22] In 2017, she summited Uhuru Peak, Mount Kilimanjaro.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Proudly Human – Dr Adriana Marais – Gone Travelling". Gone Travelling – Travelling on the go. 5 March 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Foundation for Space Development | About us". Foundation for Space Development. 8 December 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Adriana Marais CV" (PDF). Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Meet the Mars 100 - ZA". Mars One Community Platform. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Adriana". Mars One Community Platform. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  6. ^ Bruce Whitfield (21 December 2016). Adriana Marais may soon leave for Mars (never to return) (Podcast). Retrieved 9 August 2019. I believe that within 20 years we will establish life on Mars.
  7. ^ a b "2015 International Rising Talents". United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Dr Adriana Marais". Faculty. Singularity University. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Adriana Marais". Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Adriana Marais | PhD Physics PhD Candidate Economics | University of Cape Town, Cape Town ..." ResearchGate. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Let us not forget the rights of poor and rural women with little access to justice". TimesLIVE. 4 August 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2019.(subscription required)
  12. ^ "Fourth Industrial Revolution – Keeping people at the core". University World News. 11 September 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  13. ^ Moseman, Andrew (11 February 2019). "Mars One Mission Is Dead". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Programs". Foundation for Space Development. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  15. ^ "Meiring Naude Medal Citation" (PDF). Royal Society of South Africa. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  16. ^ Ndlovu, Sphumelele C.; Marais, Adriana; Shabangu, Promise T.; Noto, Luyanda L.; Greiner, Johannes N.; Engelbrecht, Nicholas E.; Dhunny, Asma Z. (27 March 2018). "Diversity of participant representation within the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting". South African Journal of Science. 114 (3/4): 4–4. doi:10.17159/sajs.2018/a0263. ISSN 1996-7489. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  17. ^ "Next generation of scientists: Pride of South Africa". Department: Science and Technology. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Search - Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings". Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  19. ^ "UKZN NdabaOnline". 10 March 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  20. ^ "THE 2016 GLOBAL MEETING RISING TALENTS" (PDF). Women's Forum. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  21. ^ "The South African Women in Science Awards". The M&G Online. 23 August 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  22. ^ "Search - 2016 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (2016)". SportSplits. 26 March 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2019.

External links[edit]