Astronaut candidate's profile
What is your current job?
Family physician in the remote community of Marathon - As one part of a broader team, I work to provide health care for people in the emergency room, hospital, and clinic. Through involvement in local health care governance and policy development, I use my experience and creative thinking to improve our community's health services.
Assistant professor at the NOSM - I have the pleasure of teaching (and learning from) medical students and residents who come to Marathon.
Why do you want to become an astronaut?
As a kid, I looked at the night sky in admiration of the moon and of humankind's accomplishment for having explored its surface. Discovery through exploration and adventure is a passion of mine. It would be extremely rewarding to push myself to my highest potential through the skills development and variety of rigorous challenges of astronaut training. The possibility of being an astronaut also brings together my enthusiasm for science, health, and fitness. It would be an honour to share the adventure with our country's youth to help create a better future for Canada and our planet Earth.
What motivated you to study in your field?
As a teenager, watching space shuttles lift off and seeing the rings of Saturn through a telescope fuelled my desire to learn about our world and universe. I chose chemical engineering to expand my understanding of mathematics and the fundamentals of science hoping to make a contribution to our society. As I studied, I discovered that becoming a doctor would allow me to apply science and problem solving to benefit the health of our people. Rural family medicine challenges me to be creative in settings where resources are limited and the team is important. I love my work as a family doctor!
Think back to a teacher who had a positive impact on your life. What did she/he do to influence you?
I am grateful for the teachers I have had in my life. One who comes to mind is my Grade 10 math teacher in Kenora. His passion and enthusiasm shaped the way I approach learning. That was the year that math started to "click" for me. He taught me that while we can sometimes just memorize something, it is more important and exciting to understand how something fundamentally works. If you understand then you use your creativity to solve almost any problem. This has stuck with me throughout university and helps me every day as a family doctor.
What do you like best about your job?
It's the variety that I like best about my job. Every person has their own unique story. I have to use both social and "hands-on" examination skills whether I am in the ER or clinic. Working in the resource-limited setting of a rural and remote community, I have to be practical in testing and treatment decisions. I also teach and learn from medical students and residents who will soon become independent doctors providing care for Canadians. I learn from my patients as well. I am really grateful that every day brings something to learn and challenge me.
Which living person do you most admire? OR Who are your heroes in real life?
I get to meet heroes on a daily basis: my patients. For people who face a diagnosis of cancer, enduring the path of diagnosis and treatment requires incredible resilience. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation can have extreme side effects. Some people may never be cured and yet learn how to heal and live their lives with love and happiness, knowing that cancer may end their lives early. Their courage is colossal. A friend of mine in Marathon, David Giuliano, has faced his cancer more than once; I am grateful that he has publicly shared his insight into this profound illness experience.
What is your favourite sci-fi movie?
The Martian. Problem solving with limited resources on Mars is fun to think about. I also like to imagine the time when Earth might send astronauts to other planets.
What is your motto?
"Where there's a will, there's a way!" I think about this when I'm struggling with a problem or trying to fix something. Take a deep breath to let frustration move aside and think outside the box.
What is the best career advice you've ever received?
Follow a career path you are passionate about. If you have multiple interests, strongly consider the option that has the greatest benefit to our society. This is more likely to bring happiness and a sense of accomplishment with your work. Even though it's been my life's aspiration to become an astronaut, I am also passionate about medicine and helping others heal and understand their health. I love problem solving and technology and try to bring an engineering approach to my daily activities.
What is your most treasured possession?
A blue piece of naturally polished agate that fits in the palm of my hand. I found it on the shores of a beach outside Christchurch, New Zealand. It reminds me of adventure and the beauty of our planet Earth.
What is your favourite place on Earth?
This is a tough one. The Canadian Shield and the north shore of Lake Superior rank high. However, the cenotes (natural sinkholes of limestone bedrock exposing a cave of swimmable groundwater), Mayan ruins, beaches, tacos and guacamole, and friendly people of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico hold a special place in my heart.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I consider the connections I have made with people throughout the different walks of my life my greatest achievement. Their friendship has brought me happiness and success. With their support and respect, I have earned my engineering degree, become a doctor, and surfed Lake Superior in the winter (yes, it's possible!). I may also achieve my life's dream of becoming one of our nation's astronauts.
What is your favourite book?
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. It's about adventure, teamwork, and pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone to grow as a person. I first read it as a young teenager and recommend it if you haven't already read it.
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