RCGS Speaker

Dr. Roberta Bondar

Astronaut, Environmentalist, NASA, Photographer, Royal Canadian Geographical Society Speaker

The world’s first neurologist in space, Dr. Roberta Bondar takes her audiences on a thought-provoking journey using her passion, intelligence, creativity, and humour. A cross-disciplinary creative visionary with ground-breaking insights on the environment, innovation, discovery and leadership, Dr. Roberta Bondar is one of North America’s most sought-after and respected presenters.

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.

Keynote Presentations:

Inspired from Beyond ~ 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.

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.

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 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 behaviour.

Aspirational becomes inspirational. Change delivers opportunity—a deep dive with a good light.

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 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.


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

“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 Technicians

“My thanks to Dr. Roberta Bondar for her contribution to IAGLR (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

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By booking through RCGS Speakers, you have chosen to be inspired by an incredible storyteller with brilliant visuals and with a portion of revenue being reinvested back into Society programs, you're also supporting the next generation of Canadian and Indigenous geographers, scientists and storytellers.

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