Chris Hadfield

Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to command the International Space Station, will join the University of Waterloo 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 retired from the Canadian Space Agency following his 2013 mission to the International Space Station. During that mission, Hadfield used social media to share breathtaking photos of the planet from space and to communicate with a broad audience on Earth. His Twitter account has close to a million followers.

Hadfield has been involved in ongoing research on heart health in space with professor Richard Hughson. The work studies 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 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.

Hadfield is expected to assume some teaching and advising responsibilities in aviation and related programs starting in the fall term of 2014. His three-year term is a cross-appointment to the Faculties of Science, Environment and Applied Health Sciences. Waterloo 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.”

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 in February 2013.
  • He and his wife, Helene, married in Waterloo in 1981 and their eldest son was born in Kitchener in 1983.

Hadfield will give a public lecture at the University of Waterloo on December 3, 2013.