Dr. Tierney Thys is a National Geographic Explorer, marine biologist, filmmaker and Research Associate at the California Academy of Science. After receiving her undergradate bio degree from Brown University and her PhD from Duke University, she served as Director of Research at Sea Studios Foundation (SSF) to co-produce award-winning PBS Nat Geo documentary series including Strange Days on Planet Earth(www.pbs.org/strangedays) and The Shape of Life(www.pbs.org/kcet/shapeoflife). Dr. Thys is a science consultant to a diverse group of artists and aquaria and serves on the science advisory boards for Think Beyond Plastic, the Wildscreen Trust and on the editorial board of The Journal of Animal Sentience. An avid SCUBA diver, pilot and ultra-runner, she has traveled to more than 60 countries and has served as an expert on National Geographic Expeditions for more than a decade. She hosts an online aquarium inside a kids’ video game entitled Animal Jam , answering questions and sharing advances in ocean science with 120 million registered players in 70 countries.
Dr. Thys is also a TED All-star speaker and frequent TEDed contributor with lessons on topics ranging from Why are Sharks so Awesome to Flying around the World Without Fuel to The Complicated Journey of Marine Plastics and The Secret Life of Plankton (winner of a Wildscreen Panda award, aka the Green Oscar). Dr. Thys’s marine biological research focuses on the giant ocean sunfishes, Molidae, which she has been tracking around the world ocean and is coediting the first academic book on the group for CRC Press due out later in 2020. Her additional Nat Geo funded conservation research projects include: 1) quantifying the physiological effects of nature imagery and ambient soundscapes on nature-deprived incarcerated populations with researchers at U of Utah; 2) mapping the influence of nature imagery on brain activity and prosocial decision-making with researchers at Stanford University using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). By combining primary research and diverse outreach tactics, Dr. Thys's greatest hope is to raise awareness of Earth's natural resources and the vital role ocean health plays in human wellbeing and longevity.