He has worked with the X PRIZE Foundation (2003, 2004 & 2006) developing the follow-on event to the $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE called the X PRIZE Cup, which aimed at bringing competing spaceship builders to New Mexico annually to compete in different flight categories. Ryan participated as a crewmember in The Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) four times on crews 25 (2004), 44 / ExBeta (2006), 56 / ExGamma (2007), and 58 / FMARS Training (2007). From his MDRS experiences, he was selected for a 100-day Mars mission simulation in the High Canadian Arctic on Devon Island, Nunavut at the Mars Society's Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS). On the FMARS Crew 11 Long Duration Mission (F-XI LDM), he facilitated the Human Factors studies for the crew of 7 as well as being a crew engineer.
His CU-Boulder start was in the summer of 2005 researching portable life support systems (spacesuits) with Dr. Klaus on a NASA-funded project. Ryan's Ph.D. thesis was titled "Characterization and Measurement Standardization of Lunar Dust Abrasion for Spacecraft Design and Operations". Ryan's dust research was awarded a 2007 NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program (GSRP) award. Ryan was the recipient of the 2006 AIAA Orville and Wilbur Wright Graduate Award, a three-time Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Scholar 2006-2009, and was a 2009 John A. Vise Memorial Scholarship recipient. Ryan remains active in space outreach as a member of the Advisory Committee for the CU-Boulder chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (CUSEDS), and as an advisor for both SEDS Canada and Mars Society Canada'sExploration Mars (ExMars) Program. In his free time he plays hockey as much as possible, enjoys skiing, SCUBA diving, hiking, and making short comedic films.
Recently, Ryan was named Executive Director of Yuri's Night, a non-profit organization with the aiming of connecting thousands of people around the world to celebrate and honor the past of human spaceflight, while building a stairway to the future.