Nicole Buckley - Chief Scientist, Life Sciences and ISS Utilization

Nicole Buckley
  • Bachelor's, microbiology
  • Master's, microbiology (tumour biology)
  • Ph.D., oral biology

I read War of the Worlds when I was about 11 years old. Spoiler alert: space aliens land on Earth and start killing off the earthlings who are powerless against the superior Martian force. But when the Martians come out of their spacecrafts, they become susceptible to this unseen onslaught of bacteria and viruses that they have no immune system against. Martians are defeated not by humans with their intelligence and technology, but by this unseen force.

Reading this book made me want to work in the space or microbiology fields. I chose microbiology, but I always think it's quite remarkable that I ended up going full circle and back to space.

Now, my team and I support the industry and Canadian researchers who help us learn how to make life in space safer and make the astronauts' return easy. We work with the best minds across Canada to do this and we're also looking at how we can connect what we learn in space to help people on Earth.

Nicole Buckley, Chief Scientist, Life Science and ISS Utilization

Nicole is the Canadian Space Agency's Chief Scientist, Life Science and ISS Utilization. Before joining its ranks in , she was a university researcher. While her rescue dogs keep her busy and active, she is embracing her Canadian heritage and finally learning to skate.

What is unique about your job?
There is no one else in Canada working to create opportunities for Canadian life scientists to address space risks. It is truly unique.

Which professional accomplishment are you the most proud of?
There have been several moments where I could see the efforts of people come together. I was very proud and fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of those efforts.

Who or what helped you the most throughout your career?
The longest-lasting influence came from my parents. My dad taught me to be honest and act with integrity. My mom taught me to be brave and not tolerate bullies.

What advice would you offer to girls or women?
Keep your options open. The world has more opportunities than you can imagine. Listen, learn and engage so that you can contribute to making the world better.

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