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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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Riddell, Robert

Robert Riddell

Where were you born?
Belleville, Ontario

Where do you currently live?
Ottawa, Ontario


  • Bachelor's, chemical and materials engineering – Royal Military College of Canada
  • Bachelor's, biochemistry – University of Ottawa
  • Doctorate, medicine – Dalhousie University
  • Rural family medicine residency – University of Alberta

What is your current job?

Medical officer in the Canadian Armed Forces - I am a physician to Canadian Armed Forces personnel, both at home and while deployed on military operations.

Why do you want to become an astronaut?

Unlike any job on Earth, being an astronaut would allow me to draw on the knowledge that I have gained from my formal education and the unique experiences I have had as a military officer and rural physician. I have thrived mentally and physically in some of the world's most hostile environments, and it would be an honour to build on this as a Canadian astronaut. Through the realm of space exploration, I would continue to push my own limits as well as the boundaries of science, medicine and technology.

If you could pick one place to explore in our solar system where would you go?

What motivated you to study in your field?

First and foremost, I became a physician because I have always been fascinated by human physiology and the ever-changing world of medicine. As a military officer I found it very rewarding when I could help my subordinates in their times of need. I wanted to build a career on this as a physician. Finally, I felt that being a physician would allow me to continue to challenge my leadership and decision-making skills in stressful, exciting environments.

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

The first person who came to mind when reading this question was not a teacher per se but a university hockey coach, Jacques Tremblay. Through his actions he taught me that people will often work harder to keep trust than to gain it. This has greatly influenced my leadership approach in the military and in medicine.

What do you like best about your job?

In much the same way I want to be an astronaut, being a military physician combines the challenges of military operations with those of clinical medicine.

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

Through my work as a military medical officer and as a rural emergency room physician, my heroes are those who live with serious illness. I am often humbled by their poise and outlook on life in the face of debilitating and sometimes terminal illnesses.

What is your favourite sci-fi movie?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

What is your motto?

Facta non verba (deeds, not words).

Were you afraid of the dark when you were young?

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

Always have options. Nearly every person has dreams and by all means they should pursue them, but always have a valid plan B (and C).

What is your most treasured possession?

My relationship with my wife (and no, she didn't make me say that).

What is your favourite place on Earth?

Anywhere with my family, a lake, a cottage, and no TV or phone.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement is having a successful career balanced with a great family life.

What is your favourite book?

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

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