Aaron Persad

Aaron Persad completed his B.A.Sc. in 2006 at the University of Toronto (UofT) in the biomedical stream of Engineering Science. His undergraduate thesis with the Bone Interface Group at the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering investigated the effects of Shuttle launch vibrations on the proliferation, viability and conformation of stem cells derived from human umbilical cords; he was supervised by Professor John E. Davies. In 2004, Aaron worked as an intern with the Canadian Space Agency's (CSA) Life and Physical Sciences division (now Space Science and Technology) under the direction of Dr. Marcus Dejmek, Program Scientist of Space Physical Sciences. Aaron’s duties included coordinating parabolic flight campaigns in the Falcon-20 aircraft with the National Research Council's Flight Research Laboratory, assisting investigators with their experiments while in freefall, building experiments for parabolic flights, and developing a portable mini-freefall drop tower for use in educational outreach activities by the CSA.

As a result of his internship with the CSA, Aaron decided to pursue graduate studies in space physical sciences. Currently, Aaron is a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto. He is supervised by Professor Charles A. Ward, Director of the Thermodynamics and Kinetics Laboratory. Aaron's Ph.D. work investigates the evaporation of liquids in order to understand the fundamental processes involved at the quantum level. The results of his work have shown that Statistical Rate Theory can be successfully applied to kinetic studies to determine material properties of pure liquids. His research challenges the currently accepted models of liquid/vapour phase change and is helping to redesign experiments destined for the International Space Station (ISS). Aaron is now working on a joint project with NASA, CSA and retired Canadian astronaut Dr. Bjarni Tryggvason to develop a low-mass, volume and power (LMVP) educational experiment to fly to the ISS in 2013.

Aaron also developed an interest in mechatronics as part of his studies with the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies. To pursue mechatronics at the university-level, Aaron became a teaching assistant (four years), and eventually the instructor (one year), for a fourth-year undergraduate capstone course on Mechatronics Systems Design and Integration. In recognition of his dedication to his students, Aaron was awarded the prestigious Teaching Assistant Award in 2013 (only one annual award for the entire Engineering Faculty). Aaron revised the university-level curriculum into tailored robotics workshops for students in grades 3 thru to high school. He co-founded the company TMS Robotics & Academics with Dr. Kausik Das, a physics instructor from UofT, and has held many successful space robotics workshops with students in numerous school boards across Ontario, Canada.

Aaron regularly participates in many extracurricular activities at UofT. He won 2010 James Dyson Foundation Award in Canada with four other team members for inventing a device to autonomously detect blood-borne parasites in unwashed blood as part of an Engineering World Health project. After winning the award, Aaron co-founded Culex Innovations Inc. with three fellow UofT graduates; the company builds low-cost automated biomedical devices and develops specialized microscopy software. In 2008, Aaron was a pre-selection candidate in the CSA‘s National Astronaut Recruitment Campaign; he made the cut from over 5,000 applicants. Aaron enjoys traveling, sailing, composing music, reading, biking, and is learning how to snowboard.