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Jared Stoochnoff – Exploration Scientist

Jared Stoochnoff
  • Education: BSc in Biology, Plant Physiology and Biochemistry; MSc in Environmental Science, Plant/Environment Interaction Modelling; PhD in Environmental Science, Controlled Environment Agriculture
  • Job title: Exploration Scientist
  • Employer: Canadian Space Agency (CSA)

What does your typical workday look like?

I am an Exploration Scientist in the CSA's Food Production Initiative. My team is hard at work trying to develop a space-ready lunar greenhouse that we call the Ground-Test Demonstrator (GTD). With the GTD, we hope to provide Canadian engineers and scientists a controlled environment for testing food production technologies and protocols. The CSA is working with the German Aerospace Center on the GTD, and we expect the initiative to grow further, including other international partners and agencies in the coming years.

My specific role for the GTD is to define system requirements, for example lighting, irrigation, air management, plant health monitoring, robotics, etc., and plant/environment interactions to maximize food production capacities. I also assess proposals from contractors for potential contracts with the CSA and support efforts to leverage this important international collaboration. I am also very fortunate to manage a small group of fantastic and hardworking students as we build up food production infrastructure at CSA headquarters.

What motivates you? Why does your career matter? 

Humanity is going back to the Moon! While we aim to develop a lunar greenhouse, we also want our innovative food production technologies to help Canadians living in remote environments, especially those suffering from food insecurity. The same technologies used to grow plants on the Moon could be deployed in schools, apartments, city centres, and remote regions with harsh climates as a new method of producing a variety of fresh, high-quality, nutrient dense crops year-round!

Which professional accomplishment are you the proudest of, or what is something that you really like about your work?

My biggest accomplishment to date was successfully completing my MSc and PhD programs at the University of Guelph's Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) to become the first ever "Dr. Stoochnoff" after nearly eight years of classes, research, and thesis writing. It was a long and winding road, but it was worth every minute! I am forever grateful to my friends, colleagues, professors, and mentors for helping me get to where I am today.

How did you get to where you are today? Did you have to overcome any challenges to get where you are?

I grew up in a very small mountain town in British Columbia with roughly three hundred people in our community. I had to leave my hometown, friends, and family to pursue a university degree. While it was intimidating to leave home, I was very fortunate to find amazing and supportive groups of people in Ontario and now here in Quebec. Even with the distance, I am still very close with my friends and family in B.C. and visit them for Christmas every year.

If you could go back to your teenage years, what advice would you give your younger self?

Don't focus on the end, just get started! Don't be so hard on yourself.

Do you have passions or hobbies outside of work?

I love music and have taught myself how to play the electric guitar and piano. Even though I don't get to go as often as I would like, I really enjoy indoor rock climbing, snowboarding, surfing, and longboarding. My brother and I grew up playing Super Nintendo and have a regular online gaming sessions to keep in touch.

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