Canadian engineer, physician, University of Calgary alumnus and former Canadian Space Agency astronaut, Dr. Robert Thirsk was elected the 13th chancellor of the University of Calgary in May 2014.
Thirsk is a passionate advocate for innovation and exploration. During his 1996 flight aboard space shuttle Columbia, he performed 43 experiments related to life and materials sciences. In 2009, Thirsk became the first Canadian astronaut to fly a long duration expedition aboard the International Space Station where he and his crewmates performed multidisciplinary research, robotic operations and maintenance of station systems.
On Earth, Thirsk has led international teams in cardiovascular and visual perception research. He sits on the boards of several non-profit organizations related to education, skills training, healthy living and space exploration.
Thirsk is a strong promoter of life-long learning. He has partnered with organizations to develop science related curriculum and experiential learning opportunities for grade school students. He is a frequent guest lecturer at Canadian and international universities and encourages young Canadians to build their career dreams upon an educational foundation and advanced skills.
Thirsk graduated from the Schulich School of Engineering in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and was presented with the university’s distinguished alumni award in 1985 and an honorary Doctor of Laws in 2009. He received the Order of British Columbia in 2012 and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2013.
In 2013, the Calgary Board of Education opened Robert Thirsk High School in his honour.