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Dr. Roberta Bondar

Roberta Bondar. C.C., O.Ont., MD, PhD, FRCP, FRSC, ICD.D

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. As a Principal Investigator with NASA 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, 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. 

Her inspirational, informative and engaging custom-designed, audio-visual presentations, both virtual and in-person, are based on her wealth of personal and professional experience and expertise as a physician, scientist, astronaut, professional nature and landscape photographer, author and mentor.


Talk Title and Description

Survival Corridor ~ A view of the Whooping Crane's World from Space to Earth  

In this presentation, still and video images will contextualize the migratory corridor of the Whooping Crane on the surface of Earth—the perspectives of spaceflight, the air and on the surface, from the northern nesting ground to the southern over-wintering area. The shift in the Whooping Crane's nesting sites from the Prairies to areas farther to the north and east occurred sometime after the mid 1920’s. In 1967, observers in Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada (WBNP) found Whooping Cranes near a small river in the northeast part of the park. Nesting activity now occurs in a wider area, and sometimes outside but close to the WBNP boundary. 

The return of the wild Whooping Crane to the Canadian prairies during its fall migration, means the rare chance to glimpse this endangered bird in its natural environment as it prepares itself for the long flight south to Texas. From this staging area, adult Whooping Cranes will disperse to fly in families with their young, while immature Whooping Cranes may fly together and sometimes with Sandhill Cranes to the Mid-western States as they stop over on route to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

From the International Space Station, the human eye can see only half the distance that the Whooping Cranes fly, one way, twice a year. The Whooping Crane’s world is not small, as measured by the distance of the migration corridor from north to south.