Language selection


Top of page

Samantha McCaig – Nutrition Specialist

Samantha McCaig
  • Education: BSc in Nutrition and Food Science, University of Alberta
  • Job title: Nutrition Specialist
  • Employer: Canadian Space Agency (CSA)

What does your typical workday look like?

I provide nutrition support for upcoming CSA astronaut missions, including International Space Station and Artemis missions. This involves procuring Canadian food for spaceflight and ensuring that it meets rigorous technical criteria. I spend a portion of my day in the Space Food Facility evaluating foods for spaceflight. I also conduct taste panels with CSA personnel and astronauts to determine the palatability of foods. It is important to consider both the safety and nutritional quality of the products being evaluated for spaceflight, to minimize the risk of foodborne illness among astronauts and ensure the food we provide will enable astronauts to meet their inflight nutritional requirements. As part of the Nutrition Support team, I work closely with other space agencies and food providers to ensure Canadian food is delivered on time to be launched to space.

What motivates you? Why does your career matter?

I'm happy that my role enables me to contribute to initiatives that both advance space research and have terrestrial benefits. Specifically, the Food Production initiatives at the CSA, whose anticipated benefits are intended to improve food systems here on Earth, especially in northern and remote communities in Canada.

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

I'm proud to be part of a team that provides excellent support to CSA astronauts before, during, and after their missions.

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

I have always been interested in STEM subjects, but never knew what type of career I wanted to pursue. When I started university, I focused on subjects that I enjoyed and eventually found a field that I could see myself pursuing. I had no idea that the information I was learning would be applicable to the space sector. Near the end of my degree, I was lucky enough to work as an intern at the CSA in support of David Saint-Jacques' mission. After completing my undergraduate degree, I worked in the food industry in both Quality Control and Research & Development roles, where I gained valuable experience and observed how many of the principles developed for space food are also benefitting terrestrial food systems. I'm very fortunate to be working at the CSA again in support of both the Food Production and Operational Space Medicine teams.

Who or what helped you the most throughout your career?

Having a great support system including family, friends, and teachers who encouraged me to try new things and embrace new opportunities.

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

Not to stress about having my life planned out. While it's good to have a plan, some of the best things are unexpected!

Do you have passions or hobbies outside of work?

I love to travel!

Explore further

Date modified: