Roberta Bondar

Roberta Bondar
Place of Birth: 
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Graduation Years: 
1974 (PhD)
Department / Division: 

How do you prepare yourself for the unknown? Because each of us in our own lives is on a voyage that is uncharted.

Roberta Bondar

Dr. Roberta Bondar is most commonly known as the first female Canadian astronaut. But did you know she has a special connection to UTM? Bondar graduated from U of T in 1974 with a PhD in neurobiology studying under the supervision of Professor Betty Roots at Erindale College (later U of T Mississauga). She also holds a B.SC. (zoology and agriculture), an M.Sc. (experimental pathology), an MD, and numerous honorary degrees from multiple universities. Bondar has received many honours including the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the NASA Space Medal and induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

During her eight days in space, Bondar conducted experiments aimed at prolonging space flights for astronauts. She researched the nervous system, inner ear balancing system, eye functions and blood flow during microgravity. Back on Earth, during a TEDx talk, she discussed her time in space stating, “The three most dangerous parts of space flight are launch, landing and everything in-between.” Among the personal belongings she took with her on the space shuttle was an Erindale College crest.

Upon her return to Earth, Bondar worked with a team of researchers to analyze data from her flight and other missions to better understand how human bodies recover from space travel. She also returned to school to study photography at the Brooks Institute in California. Bondar became a dedicated nature photographer, displaying her art in exhibitions and books such as Touching the Earth, which showcases her photos of Earth from space and her thoughts on the environment.

In 2009, Bondar established the Roberta Bondar Foundation, a not-for-profit charity that aims to inspire interest in the environment through art. She hopes that, by infusing art and science through photography, people will learn more about the environment and sustainable ethical living.



(Quotes from TedX talk):