An Interview: Prof. William Colgan

What is your educational background?

I did my undergrad at Queens University in Biology and Geography. Then I moved on to University of Alberta for my Masters degree in Atmospheric Science. This is where I got hooked on the ice cores! Finally, I completed my Ph. D. at University of Colorado on the topic “The Influence of the Melt Water in the Greenland Ice Sheet”.

CSA recently issued a call for applicants for the next round of astronauts to train for future NASA missions, and you were among them. Why?

To further increase my career enjoyment—it seemed  like the only thing to be more fun than a 30 day expedition on Greenland ice sheets is going to space! I have not made top 160 candidates, but it’s expected not to get selected; just applying for something like this is a fun daydream for most people.

What did you like the most about your recent expedition to Greenland? The least?

The most: the scenery! It felt like living in an IMAX movie for a month: big wide open spaces, which are so different form the city, flying around in little planes…

The least: living in a clod tent. Since undergrad, I have spent 347 days in the cold tent North or South of Arctic or Antarctic circles respectively.

Are you planning on any expeditions any time soon?

Yes, I am going to Greenland again next spring.

I am actually leaving Lassonde soon—I’m going on to geological survey of Denmark and Greenland (this time I’m going to live in a coastal village rather than a cold tent!). However, I am hoping to hold an adjunct position at York in the new year and to keep in touch with everyone. I am from Toronto myself, so I will be coming back fairly often. This is definitely not a good bye!

Favorite building at York?

York Lanes. I like being around people, and it is the busiest place on campus, which feels the most alive. It is also the most useful functionally.

Prof. Colgan was recently featured in the YorkU Magazine. (

Prof. Colgan was recently featured in the YorkU Magazine.

What’s your pet peeve?

Paper work: completing layers and layers of forms makes me sad!

Favorite quote?

“Do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda

Favorite color?


Favorite food?  

Nepalese food.

Favorite movie?

“Archer” on Netflix; it is an adult cartoon about the undercover spy. Becoming Sterling Archer of Glaciology is my noble career goal.

What do you do in your free time?

I do some photography. I also like reading, mostly newspapers lately.

If you could be any age, which age would you choose?

Twenty seven, because it is a trinomial—3x3x3 years old! It was also a nice time after university education and before the real world hit and serious responsibilities started.

Interesting fact about yourself?

I have travelled a lot: I’ve been to 22 countries, and lived abroad Canada for 8 years. This gives you quite a different outlook on Canadian society.

Summer/Winter, Apple/PC, Coffee/Tea, Start Wars/ Star Trek, Ketchup/Mustard

We are wishing Prof. Colgan good luck in his future endeavors!