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Astronaut candidate's profile

The candidates participating in the astronaut selection process all have unique journeys and outstanding qualities and skills. You can read their remarkable profiles here.

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Mariani, Zen

Zen Mariani

Where were you born?
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Where do you currently live?
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


  • Bachelor's, science – Western University
  • Master's, physics – University of Toronto
  • Ph.D., physics – University of Toronto

What is your current job?

Research Scientist, Cloud Physics and Severe Weather Research Section, Environment and Climate Change Canada - I lead research projects to improve weather observation/forecast capabilities in Canada, with a focus on Arctic meteorology, by developing new research sites comprised of new meteorological instruments. I manage these instruments, including their procurement, installation, operation, maintenance, analysis of datasets, and collaboration with national and international partners. I present and publish new scientific results using the data collected from these instruments.

Why do you want to become an astronaut?

As soon as I saw Apollo 13 as a child, I wanted to become an astronaut. I want to be part of something larger than I am, working on groundbreaking science with a team of international experts that will have a lasting positive impact on our society. I also want to be able to share the unique experience of living and working in space with others. To me, nothing could be more fulfilling.

What motivated you to study in your field?

As an undergraduate student, I came across a time-lapse video from the MOPITT satellite showing observations of carbon monoxide concentrations that are transported across the globe in short periods of time. This video changed my perspective on the scale and magnitude of the climate change problem while simultaneously introducing me to remote sensing techniques to observe the hidden properties of our planet from space.

Think back to a teacher who had a positive impact on your life. What did she/he do to influence you?

I was lucky enough to have a physics teacher in high school who really understood the material and, more importantly, understood how to convey complex concepts to his students. He introduced more advanced subject material during his classes that sparked my interest and made the class more interesting. However I credit most of my success in science to the influence of my parents.

What do you like best about your job?

I particularly enjoy the changes in day-to-day activities at my work. There are multiple projects ongoing at all times that demand different skills, requiring me to quickly adapt and be flexible while working in a multidisciplinary field. My work also involves travelling to remote sites where I work hands-on with new instrumentation in the field, sometimes during challenging (i.e., extreme weather) conditions. Altogether, this keeps me fresh and on my toes.

Which living person do you most admire? OR Who are your heroes in real life?

My immediate family members are my heroes. My parents provided everything I ever needed to succeed in life and were the ones who initially sparked my interest in science. My brother has always remained my closest supporter and source of motivation. Finally, my wife has been my partner-in-crime, encouraging me through everything.

What is your favourite sci-fi movie?

It's a tie between 12 Monkeys and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

What is your motto?

I don't have a motto… but if I had to choose one, it would be "think for yourself."

What is the best career advice you've ever received?

What is your most treasured possession?

What is your favourite place on Earth?

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

What is your favourite book?

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