Rupinder Brar is an Associate Teaching Professor of Physics and Astronomy and the Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning at Ontario Tech University. He earned his Honours BSc from the University of Toronto, his MSc from the University of Waterloo, and his PhD from Queen’s University in Extra-Galactic Astrophysics.
Dr. Brar is from the Punjab region of India. While his parents immigrated to Canada about 50 years ago he was born and raised here in Canada.We reached out to him in 2021 to learn more about him. Enjoy discovering this enterprising space professional.
1. How would you describe your current occupation (what and where)?
I am an Associate Teaching Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies in the Faculty of Science at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa Ontario.
2. How did you become what you are? Can you describe your journey leading to your career?
For as long as I can remember I have loved space and wanted to know more about it. It captured my imagination. Growing up I read and watched a lot of fiction and non-fiction about astronomy and space exploration. In high school I did not know what I wanted to do as a career and took courses in so many different fields. Despite loving space, I was not sure that I could make it a career because I did not have any information about how to do make that happen. I was pushed towards engineering, medicine, and business by my family and high school counselor. It was only once I got university handbooks I saw the multitude of options for a career in science, physics, and astronomy.
I took all the Physics, Astronomy, and Math courses I could in earning my B.Sc. at the University of Toronto. I moved on to the University of Waterloo for a M.Sc. and finally got my Ph.D. at Queen’s University in Astrophysics. During my degrees I got a taste of teaching at the university level and even taught my first full university course. I quickly realized that I wanted to focus my career towards the teaching part of academia. After graduation I taught at the University of Massachusetts before finally settling in at Ontario Tech University.
3. What or who inspired you to explore space exploration the way you have?
I have to thank my primary school teachers for exposing me to space and fostering my interest and talent. Ms. Oyama in particular, my third-grade teacher, really helped to spark that interest. Fictional books and television also inspired me to explore space. Growing up Star Trek: The Next Generation was my favourite show and presented space exploration in an exciting and fascinating light. I really was not exposed to anyone in the field of space and astronomy until I was in university.
4. What would you say to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Do it. If you love space and astronomy it is absolutely a worthwhile career to pursue. You will encounter those that say it is not a practical path, but that is not so. Space exploration is growing daily. There is a rising need for space-related scientists, engineers, computer professionals, teachers, astronauts, administrators, and media professionals. Besides, pursuing, making a career of, and living a passion is just so much more satisfying than any practical arguments against it. Be independent enough to follow the path that you want.
5. Share a fun fact about yourself!
I enjoy acting. When time and opportunity permit I have been an extra on quite a few film and television programs.
6. Is there something you still want to do or learn that you haven’t done yet in your career?
There is still so much I want to do and explore. We are learning so much about space that keeping up with the field is time consuming and invigorating. There are still so many discoveries to be made. Plus, I have always wanted to go to space myself and I will continue to pursue that.
Connect with Dr. Brar via:
Meet more Space Professionals