Roberta Bondar

First Canadian woman in space
First neurologist in space

Roberta Bondar
Official portrait from NASA

Born: 4 December 1945, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

Roberta Bondar graduated from the University of Guelph with a B.Sc. in zoology and agriculture and then went on to earn her M.Sc. in experimental pathology in 1971 from the University of Western Ontario, her Ph.D. in neurobiology in 1974 from the University of Toronto, and her M.D., with a special interest in space medicine, in 1977 from McMaster University. In 1981, she was admitted to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada as a specialist in neurology, eventually concentrating on neuro-ophthalmology.

In 1983, Bondar was selected to begin training for Canada's new astronaut program and on 22 January 1992, she began an eight-day journey into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-42). As an international payload specialist, she conducted scientific experiments for fourteen countries.

For more than a decade after her return to earth, Bondar headed an international team of researchers studying data from twenty-four missions to learn how the human body recovers from exposure to microgravity. The team's goal was to apply this research to various illnesses which exhibit similiar symptoms, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.

In addition to her research, Bondar studied professional nature photography at the Brook's Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California. She has published three books which feature her photographs: Touching the Earth, Passionate Vision: Discovering Canada's National Parks, and Canada: Landscape of Dreams.

Bondar has been the recipient of many honourary degrees, appointments, and awards, including the NASA Space Medal, the Order of Canada, and the Order of Ontario. In 1998, she was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. Two schools bear Bondar's name, one in Ottawa and one in Ajax, Ontario, as well as various resource centres, gymnasiums, scholarships, and even a rose. In 2003, Canada Post issued the Roberta Bondar stamp as part of its Canadian Astronauts series.

Dr. Bondar left the Canadian Space Agency on 4 September 1992. She is currently serving as chancellor of Trent University.

Additional trivia:

Bondar holds a private pilot's license and is certified in scuba diving and parachuting.

More information:

Official site.

Books by Roberta Bondar:

Touching the Earth
Touching the Earth
Passionate Vision
Passionate Vision: Discovering Canada's National Parks
Canada: Landscape of Dreams
Canada: Landscape of Dreams

Suggested reading:

Roberta Bondar
Roberta Bondar: The Exceptional Achievements of Canada's First Woman Astronaut
by Joan Dixon
On the Shuttle: Eight Days in Space
On the Shuttle: Eight Days in Space
by Barbara Bondar (with Roberta Bondar)

See also:

Marc Garneau


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Added 02 June 2006.