Roberta Lynn Bondar
OC, O.Ont, B.Sc., M.Sc., MD, PhD, FRCP, FRSC
Ninth Chancellor (2003 to 2009)
Dr. Roberta Bondar is Trent's ninth Chancellor. She is an eminent Canadian and a nationally recognized hero with the distinction of being the first Canadian woman to fly in space. Roberta Bondar is an accomplished neurologist, scientist, pilot, astronaut and photographic artist who holds the NASA Space Medal and is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. She is the recipient of 24 honorary degrees from Canadian and American universities and colleges.
Dr. Bondar has had the rare opportunity to view the earth from space and is a passionate advocate for the environment. Science and photography have always been linked in her life and it was natural that one of her assignments aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1992 was to take photographs of Earth.
Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Roberta embarked on a career of scientific pursuits beginning in high school. Using her camera in support of her studies, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture and zoology from the University of Guelph, and developed new techniques for photo microscopy while pursuing a master's degree in experimental pathology at the University of Western Ontario. She completed her doctorate in neurobiology at the University of Toronto working extensively with black and white photography. Dr. Bondar earned her medical degree at McMaster University with a special interest in space medicine. After completing her board certification in neurology, she studied at Tufts New England Medical Centre in Boston, specializing in neurophthalmology. She also studied professional nature photography at the Brooks Institute of Photography in California.
In 1984, Roberta Bondar was one of the six original Canadian astronauts chosen to train at NASA. In January 1992 she ascended into space aboard the NASA space shuttle Discovery. In her role as an international payload specialist she conducted life and material science experiments in space, becoming the world's first neurologist in space.
She is co-author, with her sister Barbara, of a children's book entitled On the Shuttle (1993), and is author of Touching the Earth (1994); Passionate Vision: Discovering Canada’s National Parks (2000); Canada - Landscape of Dreams (2002); The Arid Edge of Earth (2006); and numerous scholarly articles. In accepting the position of chancellor, Dr. Bondar said,
"In all my endeavours and travels, I have come to value how my educational experiences at the undergraduate and graduate levels have helped me to understand our world and shape me as an individual. The unique educational experiences offered at Trent, with its emphasis on the arts and sciences, combined with a strong research focus, help to distinguish the University. The University is producing graduates in a variety of sectors who are critical thinkers, lifelong learners and well-rounded citizens who contribute to our communities. Trent also has a tremendous expertise in environmental education and I am very pleased to be associated with a university renowned for its environmental science programs."
In the Spring of 2007 the Roberta Bondar Fellowship in Northern and Polar Studies was established. A post-doctoral teaching and research award, the purpose of the fellowship is to attract up-and-coming young northern scholars to Trent for the period of one academic year, in which they participate in Northern Studies at Trent University through teaching, scholarship, and public lecturing. The Inaugural Roberta Bondar Fellowship in Northern and Polar Studies was appointed to Ice Shelf Expert and Trent Alumnus, Dr. Derek Mueller.