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Meet our experts

The Canadian space sector offers hundreds of cool and exciting careers. The Junior Astronaut Camp is an opportunity for participants to meet scientists, engineers and astronauts and to learn more about their work.

These are the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) staff members who will share their skills, experience and expertise with the participants during the camp.

Meet our experts
Photo Name and expertise
Viqar Abbasi

Abbasi, Viqar
Simulation Engineer

With a bachelor's degree from York University and master's degree from École Polytechnique de Montréal, Viqar has been a senior engineer and expert with the CSA since , supporting International Space Station (ISS) robotics operations and training (Canadarm2 and Dextre), as well as space science and satellite operations, including the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite (NEOSSat) and the Collision Risk Assessment and Mitigation System. Prior to joining the CSA, Viqar worked in Canada's aerospace industry for eight years.

Pierre Allard

Allard, Pierre
Robotics Engineer

After his studies in space science and electrical engineering, Pierre came to the CSA in as a robotics instructor to astronauts. He later joined the robotics group, where he helped develop autonomous rovers and participated in the Phoenix Mars mission. He specializes in the design of ground control software, including Apogy, the system that camp participants will use during the rover activity.

Kamran Bahrami

Bahrami, Kamran
Robotics Flight Controller

Kam is a CSA member of NASA's ROBO team and a robotics flight controller (aka mission controller), which means he gets to fly the Canadian robots in space on the ISS! He also teaches new flight controllers and astronauts how to use these robots as well as how they work. Kam went to the University of Toronto and also to the International Space University to sharpen his space knowledge.

Matthew Bamsey

Bamsey, Matthew
Senior Manager, Advanced Concepts and Future Missions, Space Exploration

Matt has been fortunate to grow plants for people living and working in the Arctic and in Antarctica while preparing technologies that will one day help astronauts grow plants in space. He is now supporting the CSA in the long-term planning of space exploration missions that will hopefully carry some of our current Canadian Junior Astronauts to the Moon!

Andrew Cajina

Cajina, Andrew
Education Assistant, Youth STEM Initiatives

Andy studied biological sciences and mathematics and is an education assistant at the CSA. He's always been fascinated by the wonders and mysteries of the world of science and space, and now that he has some experience teaching and in science, he can't wait to share his love for science with all of you!

Danielle Cormier

Cormier, Danielle
Robotics Flight Controller

Danielle works for the CSA as a robotics flight controller for the ISS. She is one of the eleven Canadian members of the NASA group that plans and executes operations for the Space Station robotics systems, and one of only two Canadians certified to work in the main Space Station mission control room in Houston, Texas.

Kristen Facciol

Facciol, Kristen
Robotics Flight Controller

Kristen is part of the CSA/NASA ROBO team that gets to fly the robots on the ISS. She has supported some cool missions like spacewalks, capturing Dragons and replacing batteries and refueling satellites, and has also trained astronauts from around the world. Kristen is a graduate of the engineering science program at the University of Toronto. In her spare time she enjoys playing sports like hockey and volleyball, learning how to play different instruments, and building space-themed LEGO projects.

Sarah Gallagher

Gallagher, Sarah
Astrophysicist and Science Advisor to the President of the CSA

Biography of Sarah Gallagher

David Gingras

Gingras, David
Robotics Engineer

David holds a Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a Master's in electrical engineering from the University of Sherbrooke. He's been working at the CSA since , mostly on rovers. He specializes in autonomous navigation systems, which allow rovers to move automatically while avoiding obstacles. His work involves long hours of experimental testing on terrain resembling the Moon or Mars, such as sandy deserts and rock quarries.

Rémy Grenier

Grenier, Rémy
Manager, Laboratory and Demonstration Infrastructures

After graduating from the Cégep de La Pocatière in physics technologies in , Rémy got his first job at the Université de Montréal working with physics researchers. As a university employee, he was able to take courses for free. Rémy did not know whether he should go into engineering physics or become a physicist, so he took the time to explore the opportunities available to him and get a good sense of his own interests. Thanks to his wide-ranging experience, he joined the CSA in , filling its only technician position. Shortly afterwards, he hired other technicians. Over time, he became supervisor, then manager of the team, which is now made up of six people.

Connor Guillet

Guillet, Connor
Education Assistant, Youth STEM Initiatives

Connor is a student intern and is currently doing his Master's degree in educational psychology at the University of Victoria. One of his favourite things about space is learning about the technology being developed that also has benefits on Earth.

Jeremy Hansen Hansen, Jeremy
Astronaut Hansen, Jeremy
Natalie Hirsch

Hirsch, Natalie
Project Officer, Operational Space Medicine

Natalie works on the fitness and nutrition program for CSA astronauts. She helps astronauts stay physically fit by providing them with exercise programs on the ground and in space. She works closely with the NASA Food Lab to offer Canadian foods to Canadian astronauts and crewmembers on the ISS.

Kumudu Jinadasa

Jinadasa, Kumudu
Mission Manager

Kumi is a mechanical engineer with a minor in aerospace engineering from McGill University. She began working at the CSA as a robotics instructor 12 years ago, training astronauts on how to operate Canadarm2 and Dextre. She then worked in the project management office for the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. Currently, Kumi works as a mission manager in the Astronauts, Life Science and Space Medicine group, where she runs health science payloads and experiments on the ISS to find ways to keep astronauts healthy for future deep space missions.

Gagandeep Josan

Josan, Gagandeep
Education Assistant, Youth STEM Initiatives

Gagan is a university student studying environmental science and geology. His favourite thing about space are stars and the fact they have such different life cycles. His favourite planet? Neptune, because of its pretty blue colour.

Hope Kurylo

Kurylo, Hope
Food Science Specialist; Communications Officer, Youth STEM Initiatives

With a background in nutrition and food sciences, Hope provided astronaut David Saint-Jacques with Canadian food products during his mission to the ISS. Currently, she is working with the Youth STEM Initiatives team to increase interest in space careers and space-STEM topics among youth across Canada.

Joshua Kutryk Kutryk, Joshua
Astronaut Kutryk, Joshua
François Lalonde

Lalonde, François
Research Officer, Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS); on secondment to the CSA's Operational Space Medicine group

François has a PhD in applied exercise physiology with a profile in applied exercise physiology from the University of Montreal. He is also a kinesiologist, a certified exercise physiologist and an osteopath, and has authored several scientific papers. François participated as an exercise specialist in David Saint-Jacques's recent mission and is currently working as a research officer and developing an occupational physical assessment test for astronauts.

Melissa Jie-Yu Li

Li, Melissa Jie-Yu
Kinesiology Co-op Student

Melissa is interning at the CSA as a kinesiology co-op student in the Operational Space Medicine team, assisting with exercise support of astronauts. She was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, so she is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors. Some of her favourite types of physical activity are downhill skiing, rock climbing, hiking and jiu-jitsu.

Miriam Micael

Micael, Miriam
Engineer, Project Management, Space Utilization

Miriam is an engineer working in project management at the CSA. She has a Bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from Carleton University. She's worked on the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, Dextre Deployable Vision System, WildFireSat, Aerosols – Cloud, Convection, Precipitation and the Junior Astronauts Campaign. A few fun facts about her: she's done the longest zipline in North America, Barcelona is her favourite city, and she enjoys home DIY projects!

Chloé Mireault-Lecours

Mireault-Lecours, Chloé
Engineer, Development Program

Chloé studied electrical engineering in university. Passionate about space, she decided to specialize in the field of space antennas. She recently joined the CSA and is working on future satellite missions orbiting the Earth. She's also contributing to the Lunar Gateway program.

Watch Chloé explain what a CubeSat is.

Caroline-Emmanuelle Morisset

Morisset, Caroline-Emmanuelle
Program Scientist, Planetary Science

After completing a PhD at the University of British Columbia focusing on iron and titanium deposits related to proterozoic anorthosite massifs, Caroline-Emmanuelle had the chance of working at the CSA as a post-doctoral fellow, during which time she studied the composition of lunar ilmenite from the Apollo samples and worked on potential lunar resources. Afterwards, she worked as a mining geochemistry consultant at Golder Associates. In early , she became a program scientist at the CSA. In that role, she mainly focuses on the scientific aspects of the CSA's lunar program.

Parshati Patel

Patel, Parshati
Astrophysicist; Program Designer and Education Advisor, Youth STEM Initiatives

Parshati is an astrophysicist turned science communicator and STEM education researcher. She studied young, massive stars and the disks around them during her PhD, and now communicates her passion for space science and technology to students and the public. When she isn't communicating science, she enjoys roller-skating, painting and photography, especially capturing the night sky on her camera.

Marie-Josée Potvin

Credit: Henry Leparskas

Potvin, Marie-Josée
Senior Systems Engineer

Marie-Josée is an engineer doing research on rovers for the Moon. Dr. Potvin explores how to build rovers on the Moon that won't freeze as soon as night falls or won't overheat during the day. She also looks at how to make these rovers reparable, even as far from home as the Moon, when you have only limited tools and materials with you. She has four grown-up children: one works with Indigenous communities, one is an engineer and a military pilot, one does research in artificial intelligence teaching computers to have nice conversations, and the youngest one has a disease attacking the brain, but he loves video games and has a great sense of humour! The five of them really enjoy playing board games together or playing Spikeball.

Dominique Poulin

Poulin, Dominique
Program Officer, Earth Observation Applications and Utilization

Dominique has been working in the field of aquatic environmental sciences for 20 years. A lover of nature and open spaces, she contributes to the protection and conservation of the environment through the use of applied geospatial sciences and Earth observation. She has developed her expertise by working in ecosystem monitoring and surveillance, incident management and environmental emergencies. She has a BSc in environmental sciences and aquatic ecosystem biology and an MSc in geographic information systems and land use planning. Dominique likes to challenge herself and keep things exciting: she studied in Kenya while camping, was a divemaster in Thailand and also did water surveillance for the Canadian Coast Guard from a helicopter!

David Saint-Jacques Saint-Jacques, David
Astronaut Saint-Jacques, David
Jason Seagram

Seagram, Jason
Robotics Flight Controller

Jason has been a member of the joint CSA/NASA Robotics Flight Control team for the last 15 years and is a survivor of the University of Toronto's engineering science program. Jason enjoys long runs on forest trails, playing guitar around campfires, and flying space robots! He has led robotics operations teams for a variety of missions: installing equipment and vehicles, enabling space science, fixing the space station, and expanding the types of operations we can do with our Canadian robots!

Jamie Sévigny

Sévigny, Jamie
Senior Engineer, Project Management

Jamie had her first experience at the CSA in as a student engineer supporting satellite tasking for Canada's RADARSAT-1 satellite. After completing a degree in electrical engineering and working in private industry, she was hired by the CSA as an operations engineer and robotics instructor. For close to eight years, Jamie's main responsibilities lay in the development and delivery of robotics training and evaluation of Canadian and international astronauts. In , she made the move to project management, where she played a key role in multi-year engineering space projects, including the RADARSAT Constellation Mission. In , Jamie had a unique opportunity to lead the development and implementation of a new CSA program with the goal to use space to encourage Canada's next generation into STEM studies and careers.

Jenni Sidey-Gibbons Sidey-Gibbons, Jenni
Astronaut Sidey-Gibbons, Jenni
Isabelle Tremblay

Tremblay, Isabelle
Director, Astronauts, Life Sciences and Space Medicine

Isabelle is responsible for Canada's participation in human spaceflight missions. Her responsibilities include Canadian astronauts, operational space medicine, and Canada's utilization of the ISS, which focuses on health and life sciences research to address health risks associated with spaceflight.

Helena Van Mierlo

Van Mierlo, Helena
Senior Engineer, Planning, Sun-Earth System Sciences

Helena has worked at the CSA for 20 years. In the first part of her career, she was a member of the team that tested Canadian robotics and planned the operations that the Canadarm2 and the Mobile Base System would need to do on the ISS. In the past 15 years, she has designed satellites that are used to observe the Earth and to monitor things like the quality of freshwater in lakes, the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere or the wildfires that are burning Canadian forests. Before Helena came to the CSA, she worked at the European Space Agency in the Netherlands, as well as at the National Aerospace Laboratory in the same country. She studied aerospace engineering at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, with a specialization in attitude and orbit determination and control. She also studied in the International Space University Summer Session Program in Houston in .

Philippe Vincent

Vincent, Philippe
Senior Systems Engineer, Stratospheric Balloon Program

Philippe did technical studies in aircraft construction and then completed a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. He started his career as an engineer for an aircraft engine manufacturer before joining the CSA in . He contributed to various satellite projects as well as instruments aboard the ISS before being assigned to support terrestrial rover prototypes and, more recently, to the stratospheric balloon program.

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