Ariel Waldman headshot photo

Ariel Waldman

Science Communication Fellow
Global Director
Science Hack Day

Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?

I make “massively multiplayer science”, creating unusual collaborations that infuse serendipity into science and space exploration. I am an advisor to NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, a program that nurtures radical, science-fiction-inspired ideas that could transform future space missions. I’m the co-author of a congressionally-requested National Academy of Sciences report on the future of human spaceflight and the author of the book What’s It Like in Space?: Stories from Astronauts Who’ve Been There. I am the founder of, a directory of ways for anyone to participate in space exploration, and the global director of Science Hack Day, a grassroots endeavor to prototype things with science that is now in 29 countries.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

I unexpectedly got a job at NASA from a piece of fan mail that I sent them. After my experience at NASA, my mission is now to enlighten others on how anyone can actively contribute to the furthering of science and space exploration in clever new ways.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

The people at NASA who decided to hire me.

What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?

I love all things space exploration. Lately, a lot of my focus is on astrobiology - looking at the extreme or weird forms of life here on Earth to better understand how we can one day find life elsewhere in the universe. I'm planning an expedition to Antarctica to do just that.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

None. That first unexpected gig at NASA started it all.

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design - Art Institute of Pittsburgh 2008; Certificate in Optical Microscopy - Merritt College 2018.

What are your hobbies?

I travel often.

What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Write your own rules. Do things you have no experience in. Be insatiable. Make stuff and get it out there.

How did you get involved in the Nautilus Exploration Program? How did you get on the ship?

I applied for the Science Communication Fellowship after a couple of people suggested it to me on Twitter.


Ariel participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: