Dr Adriana Maraisis a South African theoretical physicist, technologist and advocate for out-of-the-world exploration. She is the founder of Proudly Human , one of whose initiatives is the Off-World Project, a series of living experiences in the most extreme environments on Earth. She is also the Director of the Foundation for Space Development in Africa, an organization aiming to send Africa's first mission to the moon, the Africa2Moon project.
Marais obtained a 1st class BSc Hons (theoretical physics) from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2004, followed by a summa cum laude master's degree (quantum cryptography) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in 2010. She obtained a PhD (quantum biology) from UKZN in 2015 for her research on the quantum effects of photosynthesis and her postdoctoral research focusing on the origins of prebiotic molecules and life itself. She enrolled at UCT in 2019 as a doctoral student in economics with a focus on economic systems for resource-constrained environments.
During her postgraduate studies, she taught at UKZN from 2007 to 2013 and was a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Quantum Technologies, Singapore from 2011 to 2012.
From 2017 to 2019, she was Innovation Manager at SAP Africa and in 2018 she joined the faculty of Singularity University. In 2019, Marais founded Proudly Human.
She is a member of the South African Government's Consultative Task Force on the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), the combination of hardware, software and biology with an emphasis on communication and connectivity.
For her research in quantum biology and the origins of life, she has received awards, including the International Emerging Talent Award 2015 L'Oréal-UNESCO.
Marais was coordinator of the Foundation special projects for spatial development in 2016 and in 2017 became co-director with Carla Sharpe and Khutšo Ngoasheng. The organization aims to send Africa's first mission to the moon with the Africa2Moon project, as well as pilot projects such as asteroid mining; disaster management projects based on a model geomagnographic of the solar climate; and other uses of big data in space.
The Foundation aims to inspire children in developing countries through education and science, and encourages technological research in areas such as space research, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and robotics and technologies open source communication.
In 2020, she was among the 5 world finalists of the "Most Disruptive Women in Tech" Award.
She is currently leading Proudly Human's Off-World project to demonstrate human resilience, sustainable technology, and community spirit in the planet's most extreme environments, from deserts in Africa, beneath the Atlantic Ocean, to Antarctica. , to prepare for life on the Moon, Mars and beyond, as well as to develop solutions for those living in difficult conditions here on Earth. She was previously one of the 100 finalist astronauts for the Mars One project.