Dr. Roberta Bondar
Dr. Roberta Bondar is a very modern version of the complete Renaissance woman. Her stunning list of accomplishments in everything from space travel and medicine to professional photography and public speaking boggles the brain.
It's difficult to know where to begin describing the life of this scientist, doctor, neurologist, astronaut, author, artist and environmental educator, though maybe the laboratory in the basement of her childhood home in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is a good a place to start.
Whereas most 1950's fathers would have built their daughters a dollhouse, Bondar's father encouraged her keen love of science and made her a laboratory, while her mother fostered curiosity, creativity and volunteerism. And the rest, as they say, is out of this world. Most Canadians will recognize Bondar's name as that of our first woman (and only the second Canadian) in space. She conducted scientific experiments for 13 countries in the First International Microgravity Laboratory on the space shuttle Discovery in 1992, adding astronaut to an already full resumé. When she came back to Earth, Bondar spent more than a decade as the head of an international space medicine research team working with NASA to find important new connections between astronauts recovering from the microgravity of space and neurological illnesses here on Earth, such as stroke and Parkinson's disease. She was awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal and was also inducted into the International Women's Forum Hall of Fame and the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame for her pioneering space medicine research.
Seeing Earth from space gives an artist a unique perspective. Fans of Bondar's other career - photography - would agree. She has published four best-selling books of landscape photography of some of the most extreme locations in the world. She has captured the beauty, solitude and dramatic vistas of the American southwest, the high Arctic and the Sahara Desert with its ancient Roman ruins. Her work is shown regularly in galleries and appears in many institutional and private collections.
Bondar is also a highly sought-after public speaker and consultant within the medical and scientific communities, and in the fields of corporate social responsibility and the environment. Respected for her expertise and commentary, she has been a guest of television and radio networks throughout the U.S. and Canada, is featured in the IMAX movie Destiny in Space, and has co-anchored the Discovery Channel's coverage of space shuttle launches. In 2003, Time magazine named her among North America's best explorers.
Bondar also served two terms as Chancellor of Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, and recently founded The Roberta Bondar Foundation to foster education about the environment through the art of photography.
Numerous other accolades include Officer of the Order of Canada, Order of Ontario, no less than 24 honorary doctorates from North American universities and now, a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.