Another University of Calgary alumnus has done us proud. Dr. David Kendall MSc’72, PhD’79 was recently appointed by the United Nations as incoming Chair of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). This is a big deal – the first time that a Canadian has held such a position.
The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space was established in 1959 by the United Nations General Assembly. It is based in Vienna, Austria. The Committee monitors and discusses international cooperation in space exploration and promotes the application of space technologies to meet global development needs. The Committee is also tasked with studying legal problems arising from the exploration of space.
This appointment as COPUOS Chair is another substantial role in Dave Kendall’s distinguished career. For the past 36 years, Dave has successfully served in several positions from scientist to executive with the Canadian Space Agency and other national and international space organizations.
Dave’s career was launched at the University of Calgary. As a Masters student, Dave studied the near-infrared emission spectrum of the night sky from the roof of the Science B building. His PhD studies involved flying scientific payloads on high-altitude balloons to study ozone chemistry in the stratosphere.
Dave’s University of Calgary experiences were not confined to the lecture theatre. Extra-curricular leadership experiences (Student Union and Graduate Student Association), sports activities (varsity soccer, hiking/skiing) as well as social interactions with other grad students were just as formative as anything he learned in a classroom or lab. Dave was grateful to have had Dr. Alan Clark as his PhD supervisor. Dr. Clark brought an excitement, collegiality and intensity to his research team – a leadership style which Dave effectively emulates today in his own teams and committees.
Dave’s skills in collaboration will be exercised as he leads the 77 COPUOS member states on pressing matters related to access to space for all nations, orbital debris and threatening Near-Earth Objects (e.g. Armageddon movie-like asteroids that could impact Earth). It will not be straightforward – differences of opinion amongst the large Committee membership as well as geopolitical issues can complicate consensus building. However, Dave Kendall is absolutely the right person to be leading COPUOS in this interesting period of space governance. His interpersonal skills and Calgary-inspired ‘can-do’ attitude will be put to good use.
Dr. David Kendall’s career well exemplifies the heights to which University of Calgary graduates can soar. His learning, research and student experiences at the University of Calgary were foundational. I encourage current students to follow Dave’s example and seek opportunities on and off campus to develop teamwork and human relations skills. These soft skills are key to 21st century success and so important to function on an international stage as Dave does so well.
Dr. David Kendall is a superb choice as Chair of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. He makes us proud and we wish him well.