Space Biologist

Being in zero gravity, everything seems to go silent, even though you can hear just fine. It’s serene; there is literally nothing like it.

Reach for the stars, they said. Aaron Rosenstein decided to take them up on it.

“Being in zero gravity, everything seems to go silent, even though you can hear just fine. It’s serene; there is literally nothing like it.” 

Aaron realized his passion for research early on in his life science degree at Queen’s University.  “I wanted to push the bounds of science and do something that has never been done before.”

The Canadian Space Agency took on Aaron and his team to conduct research in zero gravity, to discover whether there is an observable difference in aspects of DNA repair in zero gravity instead of on Earth.

Without the protection of the atmosphere and earth’s magnetic field, the dangerous levels of destructive radiation in outer space make protecting astronauts and any life in space imperative.

“We’re literally at the frontier of this field of research. There is something to be said for feeling part of something bigger than yourself. It is an inspiring part of science to be a part of.”

Reaching these heights was not an easy journey, Aaron insists. Spending endless hours in the lab, confronting failure and starting from scratch, Aaron is no alien to the challenges of pursuing his dream. “Science is not forgiving. It’s not supposed to just work. The universe operates under universal set of laws, and just because you try hard doesn’t mean it’ll be kind to you. You have to persevere, you need hope that it’ll work, but that doesn’t mean it will work, and you have to know that.”

Perseverance isn’t all it takes, according to Aaron. “You’ve got to be a little crazy to do science. Sometimes it takes everything from you. You’ve got to really want it.”

No matter your “what”, Aaron defines success as trying to be the best that ever was in whatever you care about. “If that’s not your goal, then what are you really doing?”

Aaron emphasizes the vital role scientists play in our world. “We owe so much to science, to the devotion of the lives of scientists to quantify truth. Especially as Jews, we know what it is to suffer the consequences of falsities. We need individuals in our community devoting their lives to the pursuit of truth.”

1. Milk: 2% for coffee or skim for drinking
2. Convention or unorthodoxy
3. Solo or team player or good team
4. Fame or Fortune
5. Bad habit? Biting my nails 

Aaron Rosenstein grew up in Forest Hill and is pursuing his Master’s in Biology at Queen’s University. He participated in a summer research project with the National Research Council and Canadian Space Agency and looks forward to continuing his research in the intersections of biology and outer space, and encourages others with similar interests to join him at the forefront of this larger-than-life field. 


Interview by Adina Samuels