Kate Greene
Physicist, STEM Expert, Essayist

Kate Greene is an essayist, poet, and former laser physicist whose work has appeared in Aeon, the Atlantic, Discover, The Economist, Harvard Review, the New Yorker, Pacific Standard, Slate, and WIRED, and others. Her essays have been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, CBS News Radio, and the BBC World Service. She has taught writing at Vanderbilt University, San Francisco State University, the Tennessee Prison for Women, and at Columbia University as a teaching fellow. In 2013, Greene was the crew writer and second-in-command on a four-month simulated Mars mission for the NASA-funded HI-SEAS project. Her memoir in essays based on the experience, Once Upon A Time I Lived On Mars, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2020. She lives in New York City.

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Once Upon a Time I Lived on MarsSpace, Exploration, and Life on Earth
St. Martin's Press

In 2013, Kate Greene moved to Mars. That is, along with five fellow crew members, she embarked on NASA’s first HI-SEAS mission, a simulated Martian environment located on the slopes of Mauna Loa in Hawai'i. For four months she lived, worked, and slept in an isolated geodesic dome, conducting a sleep study on her crew mates and gaining incredible insight into human behavior in tight quarters, as well as the nature of boredom, dreams, and isolation that arise amidst the promise of scientific progress and glory.

What a NASA-Funded Simulated Mars Missions Tells Us About Life on Earth Participating in a four-month simulated Mars mission changed Kate's perspectives on a range of issues from boredom and isolation to our relationships to time, space, and money, family, love, the human body, science, and climate change, topics that appear in her essay collection Once Upon a Time I Lived on Mars.
My Experience as a Woman in STEM As a former laser physicist, who recently had a homecoming at her alma mater through a Women in Physics conference, Kate can speak to her experience as a woman in a hard science discipline, what she has seen change over the years, what’s stayed the same, and her analysis for why a culture shift in physics, while uncomfortable and disruptive for many, could be exactly what this very 20th century field needs to advance in the 21st century.
Queering Space Exploration There’s nothing normal about life in space—it asks us to rethink almost everything about being human. Queer and gender-nonconforming people around the world and throughout time know a thing or two about what is “normal” and what isn’t and think often about what it is to be human in a hostile environment. How might queer perspectives—perspectives from people used to thinking differently about humanity, community, and problem solving—inform the future of space exploration for the better? This talk looks at ancient cosmologies from a variety of civilizations as well as the past and present of gender-nonconforming people and contrasts both with our current moment in space. How are we limiting space exploration by shackling it to capitalistic or scientific motivations only? What innovation and cultural conversations might queer perspectives on space exploration allow? What other paths might be possible?
The Science Memoir The personal is political, and even more so when it’s paired with science, a field that often purports to be apolitical and purely objective. In this talk, Kate discusses the challenges and thrills of combining deep research and explanatory science writing with my personal story as a queer woman in science and how it’s possible to tie it all together to illustrate larger truths about the world we live in now.
Notes on Artificial Intelligence, Queer Identity, and Algorithms of the Self This talk is very much in progress and tracks with Kate's current book project that looks at the emergence and evolution of the queer identity and how “queer failure” as described by theorist Jack Halberstam can be likened to the failures of artificial intelligence—the ways in which both failures can shine a light on the status quo and reveal hidden truths in dominant culture and in human perception more generally.

The Economist podcast interviewed Kate Greene on self-isolation. Hear Kate Greene on Swissnex podcast. Listen to Kate Greene talk about her experience in a NASA Mars simulation on The Gist podcast. Learn about Kate Greene’s thoughts on living in quarantine in this “Harper’s Bazaar” article. . Follow Kate on Instagram and Twitter. Check out Kate Greene’s website.

“Kate was invited to speak at the Royal Institution as part of our series of livestreamed events. Kate was an excellent speaker, extremely easy to converse with and great at answering our audiences questions at the end. She combined her knowledge of her mission, and historical work that linked to it, with intriguing personal stories and narrative.”
— Lisa Derry, Event producer and Program Developer, The Royal Institution

“Kate Greene is a terrific storyteller who understands that insight might be found in unexpected places. At home with both scientists and poets, she's a skilled and agile speaker interested in connections and possibilities. We're fascinated by her work and her ways of thinking and have appreciated the chance for lively intellectual conversations about what it means to be human.”
— Anna Leahy, Director of MFA in Creative Writing