Roberta Bondar

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Roberta Bondar

Roberta Bondar2.jpg
Born (1945-12-04) December 4, 1945 (age 74)[1]
Alma materUniversity of Guelph
University of Western Ontario
University of Toronto
McMaster University
OccupationNeurologist, scientist, educator, author, photographer, astronaut
Space career
NRC/CSA Astronaut
Time in space
8 days, 1 hour, 14 minutes
Selection1983 NRC Group
Mission insignia
Scientific career
ThesisNeurofibrillar and neurofilamentous changes in goldfish (Carassius auratus L.) in relation to temperature (1974)
Doctoral advisorBetty Roots

Roberta Bondar CC OOnt FRCPC FRSC (/ˈbɒndər/; born December 4, 1945) is Canada's first female astronaut and the first neurologist in space. After more than a decade as head of an international space medicine research team collaborating with NASA, Bondar became a consultant and speaker in the business, scientific, and medical communities.

Bondar has received many honours including Companion of the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the NASA Space Medal, over 28 honorary degrees, induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, the International Women's Forum Hall of Fame and has her own star on Canada's Walk of Fame.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Bondar was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, on December 4, 1945.[3] Her father is of Ukrainian descent and her mother is of English descent. As a child, Bondar enjoyed science and athletics. She loved the annual science fairs at her classes, and her father built a lab in the basement where she frequently conducted experiments.

Bondar graduated from Sir James Dunn High School in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario, and holds a Bachelor of Science in zoology and agriculture from the University of Guelph (1968), a Master of Science in experimental pathology from the University of Western Ontario (1971), a Doctor of Philosophy in neuroscience from the University of Toronto (1974), and a Doctor of Medicine from McMaster University (1977).[3]


In 1981, Bondar became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in neurology with a subspecialty in neuro-ophthalmology.[3] Bondar was a certified sky diver, underwater diver and private pilot.[3] A celebrated landscape photographer, Bondar was an Honors student in Professional Nature Photography at the Brooks Institute of Photography, Santa Barbara, California.

Bondar was one of the six original Canadian astronauts selected in 1983.[4] She began astronaut training in 1984, and in 1992 was designated Payload Specialist for the first International Microgravity Laboratory Mission (IML-1). Bondar flew on the NASA Space Shuttle Discovery during Mission STS-42, January 22–30, 1992, during which she performed experiments in the Spacelab.[3][5]

Bondar giving a presentation of environmentalism in 2007

After her astronaut career, Bondar led an international team of researchers at NASA for more than a decade, examining data obtained from astronauts on space missions to better understand the mechanisms underlying the body's ability to recover from exposure to space.[6]

She also pursued her interests in photography, with emphasis on natural environments. She is the author of four photo essay books featuring her photography of the Earth, including Passionate Vision (2000), which covered Canada's national parks.[7]

Bondar has also been a consultant and speaker to diverse organizations, drawing on her expertise as an astronaut, physician, scientific researcher, photographer, author, environment interpreter, and team leader. Respected for her expertise and commentary, Bondar has been a guest of television and radio networks throughout the U.S. and Canada. She is featured in the IMAX movie Destiny in Space, and has also co-anchored the Discovery Channel's coverage of space shuttle launches.

Bondar served two terms as the Chancellor of Trent University, from 2003 to 2009.[8]

In 2009, Bondar registered The Roberta Bondar Foundation as a not-for-profit charity.[9] The foundation centers on environmental awareness.

Honours, awards, and tributes[edit]

On June 28, 2011, it was announced that Ms. Roberta. Bondar would receive a star on Canada's Walk of Fame and would be inducted on October 1 at Elgin Theatre in Toronto. She was the first astronaut to receive the honour.[10]

In her hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, the Roberta Bondar Park pavilion bears her name, as does the marina beside the park and the Ontario government building at 70 Foster Drive. Bondar has also been honoured with a marker on Sault Ste. Marie's Walk of Fame.

In 1996, the Dr. Roberta Bondar Public School was opened in Ajax, Ontario and Roberta Bondar Public School was opened in Ottawa. In 2005, another public school named Roberta Bondar Public School opened in Brampton, Ontario. There are also Dr. Roberta Bondar Elementary Schools in Abbotsford, British Columbia, and Calgary, Alberta, and a Dr. Roberta Bondar Public School in Maple (Vaughan), Ontario

In 2009, Concordia University awarded Bondar the prestigious Loyola Medal.[11]

In 2017, the Royal Canadian Mint released a limited edition 25th anniversary $25 coin entitled "A View of Canada from Space". The unveiling of this honour was done in her hometown of Sault Ste. Marie at Sault College on November 1, 2016.

In 2018, Thebacha and Wood Buffalo Astronomical Society renamed its observatory the Dr Roberta Bondar Northern Observatory.[12]


  1. ^ "Biography of Roberta Lynn Bondar".
  2. ^ "Biography". Sault Ste. Marie Public Library. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Biography of Roberta Bondar". Canadian Space Agency. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  4. ^ "Who is Dr. Roberta Bondar?". ThoughtCo.
  5. ^ Becker, Joachim. "Astronaut Biography: Roberta Bondar".
  6. ^ R. Hughson and R. Bondar Autonomic nervous system function in space, in Handbook of Clinical Neurology (O. Appenzeller, ed.), Vol. 74 (30): 273‐305, 1999.
  7. ^ Bondar, Roberta (2000), Passionate Vision, Canada: Douglas & McIntyre, p. 176, ISBN 978-1-55365-379-0
  8. ^ "Dr. Roberta Bondar appointed Chancellor of Trent University" (Press release). Trent University. January 31, 2003. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  9. ^ "About The Foundation – The Roberta Bondar Foundation".
  10. ^ "Press Release: Canada's Walk of Fame Announces the 2011 Inductees". Canada's Walk of Fame. June 28, 2011. Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  11. ^ "Roberta Bondar". Concordia University. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  12. ^ "Fort Smith observatory named for Canada's first female astronaut". Retrieved August 28, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Smith Shearer, Barbara, Benjamin F Shearer (1996). Notable women in the life sciences: a biographical dictionary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Peter Gzowski
Chancellor of Trent University
Succeeded by
Tom Jackson