Dr. Scott Parazynski is a former astronaut, physician, mountaineer, pilot, diver and inventor, whose life journey gives insightful knowledge of the rigors, risks and rewards of human adaptation in high-stress environments. A feature speaker of the renowned global TED organization, known for its platform of sharing innovative ideas through powerful talks, Dr. Parazynski shares important lessons about teamwork, risk management and leadership under the most demanding circumstances.
Dr. Parazynski has lived and traveled all over the world, spending many of his younger years in places such as Dakar, Senegal; Beirut, Lebanon; Tehran, Iran; and Athens, Greece. A graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Medical School, he trained at Harvard University and in Denver, Colorado in preparation for a career in emergency medicine and trauma.
In 1992, Dr. Parazynski was selected to join the NASA Astronaut Corps. During his 17 years as an astronaut, he flew five Space Shuttle Missions and conducted seven spacewalks (EVAs). Altogether, he completed more than eight weeks in space with more than 47 hours on spacewalks. While he has traveled more than 23 million miles in orbit he has yet to earn a single frequent flyer mile! At NASA, he served in numerous senior leadership roles, including having served as Lead Astronaut responsible for overseeing inspection and repairs in the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy. His mission highlights include global ozone mapping, leading the first joint US-Russian spacewalk while docked to the Russian space station Mir; serving as Senator John Glenn's crewmate and personal physician; and conducting EVA assembly of the Canadian-built space station arm. In October 2007, he undertook his fourth and final spacewalk, in which is regarded by many as one of the most challenging and dangerous ever performed. During the spacewalk, he was positioned by a 90-foot robotic boom farther than any orbiting astronaut had ever ventured from the safety of their airlock. This highly complex coordinated effort in orbit and on the ground by Mission Control and other engineering experts has been likened to the Space Shuttle and Space Station era's "Apollo 13 moment".
Additionally, Dr. Parazynski is an accomplished mountaineer, scuba diver and commercial, instrument, multi-engine and seaplane-rated pilot with more than 2,500 flight hours. He has climbed in the Alaska Range, the Cascades, Rockies, Alps, Andes and Himalayas mountains. On his second Mt. Everest attempt in May 2009, he became the first astronaut to stand on top of the world. He also conducted a NASA-sponsored scientific dive in the caldera lake of the 19,700-foot Licancabur volcano, the world’s highest lake.
He recently served as Founding Director and Chief Medical Officer of the University of Texas Medical Branch Center for Polar Medical Operations, where he oversaw the medical screening and on-ice care of the National Science Foundation U.S. Antarctic Program, and traveled widely across the earth’s most remote continent. In November 2014, he was designated University Explorer and Professor of Practice at Arizona State University, with appointments in the School of Earth and Space Exploration as well as the Fulton School of Engineering.
Dr. Parazynski is a prolific inventor and product developer. He is a published expert in the field of space physiology with particular expertise in human adaptation to stressful environments, and also serves on the boards of several organizations and companies.