About Me

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.



  1. Karl-Anders Jansson

    Hello Robert,

    I think that we are from same family.

    My fathers father and your mothers father was brothers.

    I think his name was Peter. (Pelle)

    His lastname was Jansson.


    Karl-Anders Jansson



  2. Denita Arnold

    Hello! Wishing you luck in all your endeavors. I enjoy hearing about your space mission.

  3. Farbod Mansorian


    Today (March 9th 2016) I had the honor to meet you at Ryerson University. I would like you to know that meeting you was certainly an infuelncial experience. When I saw a picture of you in space on the projector and you talking about that picture at the same time, I felt something I find very difficult to explain but it made me want to go back to the drawing board and change some of my plans for the future. Thank you for coming to our university.

    Hope to see you again,

  4. Ann Morgan

    I had the pleasure of knowing you from 1978-79, while you were attending McGill University for medical school. I was a teacher at the time and went on to law school. I was hoping I could extend a message to you. My email is above. You were an inspiration to me when I was in my 20s and I am very grateful that I got to know you. Congratulations to you and your family for your wonderful achievements. So nice you have returned to Canada to inspire future generations of scientists. Sincerely, ann ( Preppie)

  5. annemarie

    Dear Robert Thirsk :

    My name is Annemarie I am a grade 9 student living in Canada. I would like to ask you some questions regarding the topic of outer space in hopes of your reply for my year end final Language Arts assignment.

    During my spring break holiday, I had the opportunity to visit the John Kennedy Space Center in Florida. My experience there had undoubtedly enlarged a fragment of an interest in outer space from previously reading an intriguing novel about space to blowing my expectations out of the water. I was able to learn things about space I could never learn in a textbook or on Google. Seeing how the experience and expertise of individuals like you has influenced humanity in which we are able to travel outside of earth is astonishing and has had a significant impact on myself and for setting high achieving goals. A highlight for me when visiting the center was seeing how Canada has influenced space travel as well as the engineering and science inventions made by Canadians like the Canadarm. You especially have become a figure in Canadian history for space travel for your accomplishments and an inspiring figure in which I look up too. Since then, it has opened up a door of opportunity for me to have an interest in the mysterious vastness of space as well as a passion for a future possible occupation.

    I feel it is appropriate to ask you the following questions, because you have had an amazing first hand look at outer space and its wondrous possibilities unlike anyone I know. Your dedicated work to accomplish what you have has sparked my interest in space to a degree unlike I have ever been captivated by before. The following questions will be used as the interview for my Language Arts assignment and the answers will be copied word for word. Please feel free to answer these questions as truthfully long or short as you would like.

    1. If you had the opportunity to travel to Mars and survive similar to the novel The Martian , would you or would you not and why?

    2. What scares you the most about space?

    3. If you could use one word to describe outer space what would it be and why?

    4. Do you believe in the next decade, humanity will travel to Mars or past the Moon and why?

    5. What do you enjoy most about space?

    6. What made you want to be an astronaut and drove your interest about the topic of space?

    7. Do you believe in Aliens?

    I would sincerely like to thank you for your dedicated time and energy for reading and answering these questions. Once again I’d like to thank you and look forward to your reply and feature in my year end Language Arts assignment.


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