Roberta Bondar Profile

  • Dr. Roberta Bondar is globally recognized for her pioneering contributions to space medicine research, fine art photography and environmental education.

  • She is the first Canadian woman and neurologist to fly in space.

  • Dr. Bondar is an acclaimed photographer of the natural wonders of our planet.
  • A true Renaissance woman, in her remarkable career Dr. Roberta Bondar has been an astronaut, physician, scientific researcher, photographer, author, environment interpreter and team leader. High-powered organizations including Yale University, the United Nations Environment Program, Pfizer and the FBI have all invited her to give her remarkable motivational speeches on achievement and peak performance.

    As an astronaut, Dr. Bondar has orbited the Earth 129 times, covering 3360 million miles in doing so. As a physician and scientist she has received 24 honorary doctorates from Canadian and American universities. Her groundbreaking work in space medicine, based on her specialties of neurology and neuro-ophthalmology, has been widely acclaimed and published in peer-reviewed journals. Working at NASA for over a decade, she explored connections between neurological illnesses and the experience of astronauts recovering from a microgravity environment.

    Dr. Bondar has an abiding passion for the natural environment, and has been invited to speak to many prestigious organizations on social responsibility and environmental issues. She was also the Chair of the Working Group on Environmental Education for the Province of Ontario. This group made 32 recommendations, all of which were accepted by the Minister of Education and used to bolster the state’s environmental education program.

    As a photographer, Dr. Bondar has explored some of the most extreme and remote parts of the planet, from the American Southwest to the high Arctic and the Sahara desert. In addition to her medical qualifications, she was an Honors student in Professional Nature Photography at the Brooke’s Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. Her works are much sought after and can be found in many private, corporate and institutional collections.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      The world’s first neurologist in space, Dr. Roberta Bondar is globally recognized for her pioneering contributions to space medicine research, fine art photography and environment education. Aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-42 in 1992, she conducted experiments for 18 countries in the first International Microgravity Laboratory, a precursor to the International Space Station.

      For over a decade after her spaceflight, she headed an international research team working with NASA on neurological symptoms seen after spaceflight, and their connections to neurological diseases on Earth.

      Trained as a member of NASA’s Earth Observation Team, Dr. Bondar expanded her professional photographic expertise as an honors student in Professional Nature Photography. Her fine art photographic works are held in private, corporate and institutional collections in Canada, the U.S. and England. She is the author of four best selling books featuring her writing and photography.

      Dr. Bondar continues to use fine art photography to explore and reveal Earth’s natural environment from the surface, seeing the world through the creative lenses of medical doctor, scientist, photographer, astronaut and writer. In her current project Protecting Space for Birds, Dr. Bondar is integrating three views of migratory bird corridors in the Americas and Asia-Europe-Africa—space, surface and aerial— to give us insight into the habitats needed by and to protect endangered and threatened birds.

      Dr. Bondar’s distinctions are diverse and include: Companion of the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the NASA Space Medal, induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and into the International Women’s Forum’s Hall of Fame, 28 honorary doctorates from Canadian and American Universities, Chancellor of Trent University 2003-2009, six Canadian schools in her name, a Specially Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, an Honorary Fellow and Honorary Vice-president of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and her own star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

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    Roberta Bondar's Speech Descriptions

    Dr. Roberta Bondar’s presentations draw on her experience as an environmentalist and Canada’s first female astronaut. She shares the lessons she has learned regarding goal setting, teamwork and personal discovery and brings them alive with fascinating stories of her journey into space.

    Using her expertise as a photographer, Dr. Bondar offers fascinating presentations illustrated by photographs from her journey into space and around the globe, asking us to contemplate the nature of the planet and our responsibilities to it.

    Dr. Bondar also talks on the need to embrace change, how to think critically, how to plan to achieve our visions and the future of education.

    Inspired from Beyond ~ Inspiration from beyond is enhanced by passion and commitment

    Spaceflight is only the beginning--the physical reality of Earth as a planet is eclipsed by the emotional connection one can have to the fragile life on its surface. Inspiration from beyond, and indeed even from near, is enhanced by passion and commitment. Although inspiration is needed for our individual journeys in life, our passion and strategy will always influence and inspire others on their own paths.

    Resilience ~ Staying informed, diminishing fear

    COVID is affecting all of us— our personal and professional spaces, our lives and how we live them. It is a stress test for more than economics. Relief can seem short-lived, with gathering clouds of fear with rain that might promote seeds of doubt. But, as we know from viewing things from the distance of time and space, there is abundant energy from the light that lives beyond us and within the best of human behavior. Aspirational becomes inspirational. Change delivers opportunity—a deep dive with a good light.

    The Art of Seeing and the Art of Being ~ Creativity through clarity of vision

    Curiosity is linked to exploration. It is also about what we might be missing, or what might be important to our safety and health. Without curiosity, creativity would live in exile and we would be limited to our immediate life with no real potential for true growth. We can change how we view the world around us by awakening our senses to explore what lies beyond the human eye or personal experience. Revelation becomes relevance and the more investment in the connection, the more powerful the outcome. Dr. Bondar combines her expert knowledge in her specialty of neuro-ophthalmology (how we see and view the world around us) and professional training in landscape/nature photography with her experience of spaceflight to seek new worlds and ideas.

    Considered Risk ~ Opening up possibilities for change and growth

    Life is a series of moments, any of which can change the course of personal, professional and world histories. Random things can happen and they do, all of the time. Far better to embrace change than to fear it. Far stronger to examine fear and how to overcome it. The danger of spaceflight makes it unnerving for many and for others it is a source of inspiration – that human beings are destined for something greater beyond Earth life. Fear unexamined is risk undetermined. Risk becomes a force for change and all change bears risk, with the balance of risk and change set by personal passions and goals. Dr. Bondar discusses the possibilities and inspiration derived from actively seeking opportunity once risk is considered.

    Perspective Shift ~ Moving beyond the familiar to reach for the extraordinary

    The nucleus of shifting one’s point of view is having an opportunity to see and experience things in a completely different way. Sometimes it takes dismantling the known and other times it is the unknown that thrusts us into a new view of the old. Spaceflight gives us images and ideas plus the potential of emotional and natural connections to our life on planet Earth. Dr. Bondar integrates her perspective from space with her Earth exploration through still and video imagery to stimulate others to think differently.

    Patterns of Philanthropy for Life ~ Contributing to the fabric of society

    The perspective of Earth as seen from space is a reality check that indeed we live on a planet. It also can open the mind and heart to the interconnectedness of its natural resources, including the most precious of which is life. Great principles of philanthropy include helping others to survive the many challenges facing us on the planet, and to reduce poverty while promoting excellence through education. This is accomplished best through volunteerism and or financial support. Volunteers are a source of inspiration and have the passion and commitment to move society forward. The Roberta Bondar Foundation, a charitable organization, implements programming through a strong volunteer base that seeks a better society by connecting all generations to our natural world through the coupling of art and science.

    What People are Saying about Seeing Roberta Speak

    Rating Entries

    “Fascinating, innovative, creative and pushing forward with new directions requiring leadership.”
    Maryland Healthcare Education Institute, Governance Leadership Conference

    “She drew upon that rare combination of intelligence, creativity, and humour to keep us thinking and laughing throughout her address.”
    Cath Kenney, School of Media and Design, Algonquin College

    “My thanks to Dr. Roberta Bondar for her contribution to IAGLR 2008 (International Conference on Great Lakes Research). I had several people comment to me that she gave the best conference dinner presentation that they have ever heard. It struck just the right chord in terms of the content and of course, the images were spectacular.”
    Chris Metcalfe, Trent University

    “Dr. Bondar’s moving keynote was a bright point in the evening. Looking around the room at all the faces who were riveted by her talk, we know all youth in attendance were captivated by her words.”
    Jon-Erik Lappano, EcoMentors Program Manager, Earth Day Canada

    “Thank you to Dr. Bondar for a wonderful experience. I believe she ‘hit the nail on the head’ with her talk on change and there were many present who walked away feeling more empowered because of her words.”
    Tracy Cunliffe, RTV President, Ontario Association of Veterinary Techinicians

    “Her warmth, passion, knowledge and experiences certainly made an impact on me and our audience.”
    Michele Parker, Coordinator, Student Engagement, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

    “First of all, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all your assistance with Dr.Roberta Bondar’s visit. We all enjoyed her presentation. The students were very impressed and they were very happy with all the books she brought for them. Dr. Roberta Bondar had the opportunity to meet with former high school classmates who are from this community and who attended schools in her home town of Sault Ste. Marie. It was indeed a happy moment for them, they never would have dreamed of seeing Dr. Roberta Bondar in their community. As you can see, it was an exciting day for everyone!”
        Cree School (booking organized by

    “A wonderful speaker… exuding intelligence, great warmth and compassion..”
        Yale University

    “… inspirational, humourous and enlightening.”
        Federal Bureau of Investigation

    “… an enthusiastic delivery and fascinating speech… certainly the highlight of our two-day conference.”

    “… a standing ovation… and in return a standing ovation for us for including her as part of our agenda…. A great finishing touch to the day!”

    “… Absolutely fantastic… captured the audience with your first words and kept us mesmerized until the end.”

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