I've been fortunate to have a diverse and fulfilling career so far. Along the way I've had to gain some facility in mechanical engineering, robotics, spacecraft operation, geology, autonomous image interpretation, machine learning, aviation, flight instruction, space mission development, airbone science operations, meteorology, physics, orbital mechanics, radio communication and navigation, software development, manufacturing, teaching, and remote fieldwork.
Since 2014 I've been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, first as a post-doc and later as staff. Among my work there:
From 2010 to 2014 I was a PhD student at the University of Western Ontario. I studied in the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (now the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration), where I was the first PhD student in Engineering. In fact, I was co-supervised by Ken McIsaac in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Gordon Osinski, a geologist specializing in impact cratering processes. My doctoral thesis developed new algorithms for processing images of natural scenes to extract science data, and operational strategies to make use of such capability in robotic exploration missions. To prepare for that, I took part in multiple geological field expeditions to a variety of geological and climactic environments, including impact craters in Canada's high arctic and subarctic, including exploration of the newly-discovered Tunnunik impact structure on Victoria Island, Northwest Territories. I also participated in several lunar and Mars exploration analogue mission simulations. From November 2011, I was a graduate student member of the MSL Science Team, and took part in Curiosity rover operations beginning shortly after landing in August 2012. My doctoral studies were primarily funded by the Canadian Astrobiology Training Program.
From 2008 to 2010, I was an MSc student in Physics, in the Space Sciences group at the Royal Military College of Canada. My master's thesis concerned the propagation of aircraft transponder signals through the atmosphere to receivers at extreme altitudes, and the design of satellite constellations to use those signals to provide air traffic monitoring in non-radar airspace, such as over the ocean and remote land areas. It included the results of the very first experiments to detect ADS-B transponder signals using stratospheric balloons, part of an experiment campaign for which I was the chief system engineer and balloon operations lead. These experiments, and my master's studies in general, were principally funded by Defence Research and Development Canada.
From 2007-2008, I was a Young Graduate Trainee at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre. I worked in the development of microgravity science payloads, in particular the first two batches of Experiment Containers for the Fluid Science Laboratory aboard the International Space Station. At least three of the experiments I worked on have since flown to the ISS, including FASES (Fundamental and Applied Studies of Emulsion Stability), on which I did significant mechanical engineering and operational analysis aimed at ensuring the scientific validity of the experiment design.
From 2001 to 2006, I was an undergraduate student in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ottawa. I took part in the CO-OP program, doing four industrial placement semesters, including two in factories (one for chocolate, the other for polycarbonate sheeting), a software firm (in Belgium, my first international job), and a small space hardware company, where I did mechanical, thermal, and vibration analyses for satellite components and an ISS payload's ground support equipment.
Since 2001, I have been an instructor in Canada's Air Cadet Gliding Program, initially as civilian staff, then as an officer in the Cadet Instructor Cadre. As a gliding instructor I've trained cadet pilots to licence standard, taught new instructors how to teach flying, acted as a mentor to pilots and instructors at all stages of their training, and worked as a checkpilot verifying skills and techniques. On the ground, I've taught much of the range of skills included in the Air Cadet program, and everything included in the pilot ground school. I've been less active since becoming full-time staff at JPL, but I still maintain some involvement with the program.