Bondar is a neurologist and clinical science researcher specialising in the nervous system. After her internship in internal medicine at Toronto General Hospital, she completed post-graduate medical training in neurology at the University of Western Ontario; neuro-ophthalmology at Tuft's New England Medical Center (Boston) and at the Playfair Neuroscience Unit of Toronto Western Hospital; and carotid Doppler and transcranial Doppler at the Pacific Vascular Institute (Seattle). She was assistant professor of medicine (neurology) at McMaster University in 1982-84. In 1985 she was named chairperson of the Canadian Life Sciences Subcommittee for Space Station. She has served as a member of the Ontario Premier's Council on Science and Technology, as a civil aviation medical examiner and as a member of the scientific staff of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto.
Roberta Bondar, Canada's First Woman Astronaut
At the time of selection for the Canadian space program in December 1983, Bondar was assistant professor of neurology and director of the multiple sclerosis unit at the McMaster Medical Centre in Hamilton, doing both clinical work and research. Her particular interest in the nervous system and the inner ear balancing system, especially as it related to the functioning of the eye, had immediate relevance to experiments being planned for the first Canadian space flight. She also conducted research into blood flow in the brain during microgravity, lower body negative pressure and various pathological states.
In February 1984 Bondar moved to Ottawa to take part in the National Research Council of Canada training program; later that year she joined the faculty of medicine at the University of Ottawa. In early 1990, she was designated as prime payload specialist for the first International Microgravity Laboratory Mission (IML-1). Bondar flew on the space shuttle Discovery during Mission STS-42, 22-30 January 1992, and during her 8-day space mission conducted experiments in the Spacelab and on the middeck to discover means to allow future astronauts to undertake longer flights in space. She left the Canadian Space Agency on 4 September 1992 to pursue her research.
An avid photographer who studied nature photography at the Brooks Institute in California, Bondar was also tasked on STS-42 with taking photographs of Earth. Her chronicle of her experiences in space was published in 1994 as Touching the Earth. Bondar has had several exhibitions of her photographs and published 3 other books of photographs, including Passionate Vision documenting Canada's national parks in 2000.
In 2003 Roberta Bondar's achievements were acknowledged by her appointment as chancellor of Trent University. She served in that position for 2 terms, until 2009.
Among Bondar's many honours are her appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada, appointment to the Order of Ontario, more than 22 honorary degrees and induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.
Author LAURA NEILSON
Links to Other Sites
Perspective Earth through the eyes of an astronaut
View a striking collection of photographs of Canada's national parks taken from space and at ground level by Roberta Bondar. Also includes an interview with the acclaimed Canadian astronaut and photographer. A Kodak.com website.
Dr. Roberta Bondar
A profile of Dr. Roberta Bondar, whose distinguished career as a NASA astronaut propelled her to national fame. From the Canadian Medical Hall Of Fame