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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Astronauts wanted
Michelle Whitty

Whitty, Michelle

Where were you born?
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Where do you currently live?
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Education

  • Bachelor's, civil engineering – Royal Military College of Canada
  • Master's, civil engineering / biomedical engineering – Royal Military College of Canada
  • Doctorate, medicine – University of Ottawa
  • Family medicine residency (ongoing) – University of Calgary

Photo of the astronaut candidate during the aptitude tests. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Photo of the astronaut candidate during the aptitude tests. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

The astronaut candidates during the second series of aptitude tests. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency, MCpl Chris Ringius, DND)

The astronaut candidates during the second series of aptitude tests. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

The astronaut candidates during the second series of aptitude tests. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency, MCpl Chris Ringius, DND)

The astronaut candidates during the second series of aptitude tests. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency, MCpl Chris Ringius, DND)

Photo of the astronaut candidate during the aptitude tests. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Photo of the astronaut candidate during the aptitude tests. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Photo of the astronaut candidate during the aptitude tests. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

What is your current job?

Captain in the Canadian Armed Forces and qualified combat engineering officer - Following my deployment to Afghanistan, I was accepted into the Medical Officer Training Program. I recently completed my degree in medicine and am currently completing my residency in family medicine at the University of Calgary. I am presently working as a medical doctor in training in various hospital and clinical settings in Calgary.

Why do you want to become an astronaut?

I was sitting around a campfire in the backcountry of Algonquin Park with friends when someone mentioned that the CSA was taking applications for two astronaut positions. I almost couldn't contain my excitement. I had been waiting for this moment for years, ever since my parents sent me to astronaut camp in 1994 at the Euro Space Centre in Belgium. The thought of a lifetime of learning, travelling and adventure makes me excited. I am thrilled at the opportunity to be able to merge the fields of medicine, engineering and space exploration and push the limits of human knowledge.

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've always loved math and science and have always felt it was important to stay physically fit. With my father being a military engineer, it was a logical step for me to join the Canadian Armed Forces and study engineering at the Royal Military College of Canada. Following graduation, I was offered the opportunity to complete a master's degree in applied science. For this I merged my engineering knowledge with my long-time fascination with the human body. This work, combined with an interest in working with people, ultimately led me to change careers and to study medicine.

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

My Grade 3 teacher at Peacock Elementary in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL, Mademoiselle Hobbs, taught us about the negative effects of smoking and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. We signed a pocket-sized card promising that we would be a "smoke-free graduate." As a result of that classroom activity, I never took up smoking. I credit Mlle Hobbs with instilling in me, from a young age, the importance of good health and physical fitness. I also realized the strength of my conviction upon graduating from high school.

What do you like best about your job?

I love the military for its comradery, teamwork and frequent adventure. My favourite part of medicine is the constant challenge and diversity of medical issues that I encounter while treating patients. Each patient requires you to look beyond textbook knowledge and consider him or her as an individual. The fact that I can do medicine within the Canadian Armed Forces allows me to combine the best of both worlds.

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

Brigadier-General Jennie Carignan is the highest-ranking Combat Arms woman within the Canadian Armed Forces and is the world's first female Combat Arms General. I had the pleasure of working under her command as a young combat engineer at CFB Valcartier, Quebec. She is charismatic, approachable, as well as an exceptional leader. She taught me that you can excel as a woman in a challenging profession while maintaining a positive work/family balance.

What is your favourite sci-fi movie?

Star Wars.

What is your motto?

Challenge yourself and be happy.

What would you do if you met aliens?

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

It is my husband who gave me the most important career advice, inspiring me to completely change career paths. He taught me that it’s always important to follow your dreams, even though the chance of succeeding is sometimes slim. It is important not to let the fear of failure hold you back since inevitably you will learn from the process. There is never a time in your career when it’s too late to reset your goals and aim for higher. And therefore, as I have done before, I am aiming higher and prepared to change careers.

What is your most treasured possession?

My three children: Claire (4), Rachel (2) and Alec (2 months).

What is your favourite place on Earth?

Anywhere surrounded by friends and family.

Anywhere a new adventure takes me.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My deployment to Afghanistan in 2009 as a combat engineer is my greatest achievement. I was the operations and plans officer for the engineer squadron attached to 2 Battalion Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group. I was overseeing the movement of personnel and equipment and the planning of operations for over 150 engineer soldiers on the ground. I am proud of the teamwork environment I built, the attitude of determination I maintained, and the significant work I accomplished almost always under intense pressure during my six-month tour. My leadership was put to the test and as a team, we succeeded.

What is your favourite book?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.