Canada’s next Governor General is an astronaut, an engineer, a scientific broadcaster, a corporate director and one of York University’s honorary doctorate recipients.
Julie Payette, who received an honorary doctor of science in 2010, has been appointed the position, and will step into the role this fall. She will serve in succession to David Johnston.
From 1992 to 2013, Payette worked as an astronaut and, in 1999, she became the second Canadian woman to fly in space. She flew two missions to space, and logged more than 611 hours in space. She also served many years as CAPCOM (Capsule Communicator) at NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, and was Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency.
Prior to her career in the space program, Payette worked as an electrical and computer engineer, conducted research in computer systems, natural language processing and automatic speech recognition.
Payette has a broad range of talents and is a trained pianist and soprano soloist, who has performed with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto. She is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. The most prestigious postgraduate scholarships offered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research (NSERC) Council of Canada are the Julie Payette-NSERC Research Scholarships.
She has earned a high degree of respect for her work in developing policies to promote science and technology, including serving as the CEO of the Montréal Science Centre.
In the community, she has made significant contributions through her role on the boards of the Montréal Science Centre foundation, Robotique FIRST Québec, Own The Podium, Drug Free Kids Canada, and the Montreal Bach Festival. She has recently been appointed to the International Olympic Committee Women in Sports Commission.
She is a member of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec and a fellow of the International Academy of Astronautics. She has received many distinctions and 27 honorary doctorates. She is a Knight of the Ordre national du Québec and an Officer of the Order of Canada.