Catheryn Ryan


I am queer and I am a planetary geologist and astrobiologist. //

I am currently a PhD student in geology and planetary science at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, studying structural biosignatures in volcanic rocks to understand early planetary habitability. I came into geology by accident after failing out of engineering school, and quickly fell in love with the multidisciplinary nature of the field, not to mention the joys of getting to study outdoors. After my BSc in geology at Saint Mary’s University (Halifax, Nova Scotia), I moved to Toronto complete my MSc in Earth and Space Science at York University. I have had the opportunity to work on three different NASA/Canadian Space Agency analogue missions; travel to Italy, Arizona, Utah, Hawai’i, and all over Nova Scotia for fieldwork; and attend a number of academic conferences. I love geology because it lets one understand the Earth from the smallest mineral to the largest mountain, and makes even mundane things like highway road cuts into interesting learning opportunities.
In 2017, I helped found the Queers In Planetary Science (QUIPS) Facebook group, a small networking group of queer folks and allies in our field, and we advocate for more inclusive policies at conferences such as neutral washrooms and pronoun badges. I’ve also given talks on panels about my experience as a queer scientist. I have been lucky to find many queer friends in my field.
In my spare time, I love to sew, knit, rock climb, sing, and mostly hang out with my amazing rescue dog, Ellie.