National Geographic Expert

Tierney Thys

Dr. Tierney Thys is a marine biologist, award-winning filmmaker and Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences, whose work bridges scientific study and communication to promote environmental understanding. Her current research explores brain responses to nature imagery and environmental decision-making using neuroimaging. In collaboration with fellow National Geographic Explorer Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, Tierney helped develop evidence-based nature interventions for incarcerated populations—an initiative which TIME magazine named one of the top inventions of 2014. She is also the cofounder of the educational nonprofit Around the World in 80 Fabrics, which celebrates the diversity—both cultural and biological—of natural fiber textiles, as well as the communities who craft them.

As past Director of Research for Sea Studios Foundation, she helped produce the award-winning PBS documentaries Strange Days on Planet Earth and Shape of Life. She is now an independent filmmaker, a TEDx and All-Star TED speaker, and a frequent contributor to TED-Ed. A National Geographic Explorer, master scuba diver, private pilot and former ultrarunner, Tierney has visited or worked in more than 70 countries and loves to share the wonders of the planet with her fellow travelers.