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Mika McKinnon - Independent. Vancouver, BC, CA

Mika McKinnon

Geophysicist | Independent

Vancouver, BC, CANADA

Field geophysicist, disaster researcher, scifi science consultant, science writer, public speaker, irrepressible educator.





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I'm a physicist and geophysicist specializing in disasters -- tsunami, earthquakes, asteroid impacts -- pretty much all the fun, heart-pounding science. My research focus is on the dynamics of landslides, and predicting where the landslides will travel to mitigate risk.

I'm a science consultant in the film industry, bringing plausibility to fictional plotlines. I worked on the Stargate franchise, No Tomorrow, and countless projects locked in the veil of development secrecy.

As a science communicator, I stick to the coolest beats -- planets, rockets, and the end of the universe.

Areas of Expertise (9)

Disaster Risk Reduction


Science and Policy

Science Fiction

Science Fiction Film and Tv


Women in Science


Natural Disasters

Education (2)

University of British Columbia: Masters of Science, Geophysics

University of California at Santa Barbara: Bachelor's, Physics

Languages (1)

  • English

Media Appearances (3)

What Geology Has to Say About Building a 1,000-Mile Border Wall

Smithsonian  online


Compared to erecting a marble palace or high-steepled church, a wall may seem relatively straightforward—it isn’t.

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Episode 89 - Mika McKinnon

Talk Nerdy  radio


Cara is joined by the "Master of Disaster" herself, geophysicist and science writer Mika McKinnon. They discuss her work as the science consultant on Stargate, how life was a driving force behind an explosion of earthly minerals, and the improvements Canadians are hopeful for under their new Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

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The Science of Studying Eruptions

WNYC  radio


In September, over 50 people died during a volcanic eruption in Japan. Iceland continues to experience its largest continuous volcanic eruption in centuries. On this week's Please Explain, we are talking about volcanoes: how are they formed, how dangerous are they, and how scientists monitor them. We will be joined by Mika McKinnon, a geophysicist and journalist with the science publication i09, and David Schneider a USGS Research Geophysicist at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

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Event Appearances (10)

Workshop Leader, Panelist

2017 APS Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics  Harvard University, Boston, MA


2012-2016 Dragon Con  Atlanta, GA


Another Night of Total Destruction, Science and Entertainment Exchange  Director's Guild of America, Los Angeles, CA


2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting  San Francisco, CA


2016 GateCon  Vancouver, BC


2016 Time Lord Fest  Tampa, FL

Workshop Leader

2015 Science Communication Camp  Santa Monica, CA

Invited Speaker

2013 BC Geophysical Society Annual Meeting  Vancouver, BC


2012 TimeGate  Atlanta, FL

Science Ambassador

2011, 2014, 2016 Science Hack Day  San Francisco, CA

Articles (4)

North Korea: When is an earthquake a nuclear test?

BBC News


The first sign that North Korea had carried out its fifth nuclear test last month was when a massive earthquake was detected by international scientists. As North Korea marks 10 years since its first test, geophysicist and disaster researcher Mika McKinnon explains how scientists have learned to identify these world-shaking events.

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Was Juno the fastest spacecraft ever? Only kind of.

Astronomy Magazine


It all has to do with the point of view of the observer, in a sense.

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Up close with the awesome power of NASA’s biggest ever rocket

New Scientist


They call it the most powerful rocket ever built. NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) is designed to carry astronauts on deep space missions, and after years of development it’s time to certify this monster for flight. I’m in Utah for the final ground test, to take place on the far side of a cluster of anonymous buildings blocked from view by hillsides dried out in the summer heat.

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As fires rage, emergency responders rely on familiar apps to save lives

Ars Technica


Handful of custom apps mixed in the with likes of Periscope, Skype, and Basecamp.

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