Astronaut candidate's profile

The candidates participating in the astronaut selection process all have unique journeys and outstanding qualities and skills. You can read their remarkable profiles here.

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Sleno, Nathalie

Nathalie Sleno

Where were you born?
St. Albert, Alberta, Canada

Where do you currently live?
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada

Education

  • Bachelor's, science – University of Alberta
  • Doctorate, medicine – University of Manitoba
  • Family medicine residency – University of Alberta

What is your current job?

Medical officer, team lead, 1 Field Ambulance Detachment, Yellowknife - I am team lead for 1 Field Ambulance Detachment Yellowknife, assisting in building and managing the unit to provide efficient, effective and accessible care. I do direct patient care for the military personnel, including Joint Task Force North, the Canadian Rangers, and supporting unit members. I act as medical advisor for the North. I also act as aviation medical officer, managing aeromedical issues and concerns, for 440 Squadron, an Air Force unit that conducts airlift, utility and liaison flights in support of Canadian Armed Forces activities and the Cadets in the North.

Why do you want to become an astronaut?

It would be the greatest achievement—and the ultimate experience—to participate in the forefront of science! To be so closely involved in the greatest frontier, as we continue to push limits and pursue knowledge, would be a dream come true. It serves humanity as a whole, without borders or division. What is gained through space exploration is gained for the whole human race. I would only dream of being so privileged.

If you could pick one place to explore in our solar system where would you go?

What motivated you to study in your field?

I wanted to be a pilot since I was a child, and was in training when my mother got sick. She passed away soon after. A few years later my son got sick. These events triggered my motivation to go into medicine. I had many questions and the more questions I had, the more my answers were leading me to medicine. I took a few turns along the way, but the long path to medicine gave me valuable experiences in research and aerospace physiology, and has enriched my current path, which I'm grateful for.

Think back to a teacher who had a positive impact on your life. What did she/he do to influence you?

I have had a number of great teachers, but the first who came to mind is my high school math teacher, Mr. Reinbolt. He had a way of reaching us without us being aware of his efforts. He was knowledgeable, patient, and cool-headed. He had a quiet way of encouraging and motivating, and I always looked forward to his class. He was a reference for me when I joined the military and was one of the first people I told when I got accepted as a pilot.

What do you like best about your job?

I enjoy the challenge and the dynamic role that is asked of me in this unique environment. The location is amazing and offers so many great adventures, but the north can be isolating and harsh. There are some medical concerns that arise unique to this area: the isolation, the cold, the dark, and the environmental risks in these northern operations. The clinic is run differently from most as well. Cooperation and coordination with local resources is a key aspect, enabling me to engage with the community. The responsibilities are extensive and I work with some amazing people.

Which living person do you most admire? OR Who are your heroes in real life?

I most admire my husband, Jeff. We've had some challenges keeping our family together while I fulfill my duty as a longstanding member of the Canadian Armed Forces. He has continued to rise to the challenge, accepting what life has offered us and providing stability for our family. He has had to sacrifice his goals for the sake of our family. I admire his willingness, his courage, his generosity and his strength. He motivates me to be my best self, and I respect his opinion above all others.

What is your favourite sci-fi movie?

This was a hard one. There are a few that come to mind. The one I keep coming back to, though, is Aliens with Sigourney Weaver.

What is your motto?

The message I try to live by is "Have faith, work hard and have no fear."

What would you do if you met aliens?

What is the best career advice you've ever received?

A friend of mine once told me that he sees everything as an opportunity, especially when you think things aren't going as planned. This stuck with me and has been the best advice.

What is your most treasured possession?

What comes to mind are the things I'm most grateful for: my faith, my family and my friends.

What is your favourite place on Earth?

My favourite place is Canada as a whole. I have some fond memories in almost every province and territory. I've loved canoeing through Algonquin Park, skiing and hiking in the Rockies, ice fishing in the territories, swimming in any one of the many rivers across Canada, and watching the Prairie sunsets. It's my home.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I considered my career accomplishments, but in truth, my family is my greatest achievement, if I can say that. I have seven beautiful children with my husband of nineteen years. I am proud of every one of them. They have been my support and my greatest strength throughout my career. Their willingness to accept change, take on the next adventure and see what the unknown will bring never ceases to amaze me.

What is your favourite book?

This was a tough one since I LOVE books. The top of the list, though, has to be The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

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