Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield Joins University of Waterloo As Professor

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The first Canadian to walk in space is putting on the teacher’s cap. The University of Waterloo today announced the appointment of retired Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, as a professor of aviation.

“We are delighted to welcome Chris Hadfield to the University of Waterloo as a member of our faculty,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “This is a tremendous opportunity for our students and researchers to work with, and learn from, one of the greatest Canadians of recent times.”

Hadfield’s first role on campus will actually be research-based, rather than teaching. The Vancouver native will finish his participation in research on heart health in space with professor Richard Hughson. Hughson is looking into why some astronauts are prone to fainting spells when they return to earth by predicting how they recover from rapid changes in blood pressure.

The research, known as BP Reg, will not only help understand dizziness in astronauts, but also have direct benefits everyday on Earth – particularly for elderly people predisposed to falls and resulting injuries.

In addition to his involvement with heart health research, Hadfield will assume some teaching and advising responsibilities in aviation and related programs from Fall 2014. Waterloo’s offers two undergraduate degrees in aviation, a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Environmental Studies.

“As you would expect for a man who has just returned to Earth after five months in space, Chris has a very busy schedule,” said professor Ian McKenzie, director of aviation at Waterloo. “We are excited that he is willing to share his extensive career knowledge and experience in aviation with our faculty and students when he is able.”

Professor Hadfield’s role at the university is not his first experience with Waterloo:

  • He studied as an NSERC postgraduate in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo in 1982, looking at aircraft fuel pump design.
  • He was the keynote speaker for the official launch of the Waterloo Aviation program in June 2007.
  • He conducted a downlink to the University of Waterloo from the International Space Station during Expedition 34/35 inFebruary 2013.
  • He and his wife, Helene, married in Waterloo in 1981 and their eldest son was born in Kitchener in 1983.

First up for Hadfield will be to give a guest lecture at the University of Waterloo on December 3, 2013. Details about the event will be released closer to the time.

Professor Hadfield is cross-appointed to Waterloo’s Faculties of Science, Environment and Applied Health Sciences.