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Professor Spotlight: Dr. Mike Dixon (University of Guelph)

Written by Adam Vassallo

Episode 8 of Adam Vassallo‘s Prof Talks podcast features Dr. Mike Dixon of  University of Guelph. In this episode, they talked about growing crops and recycling waste in space. Here’s our takeaways:

Dr. Mike Dixon

  • Professor, Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph (Guelph, ON, Canada)
  • Director, Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility


  • B.Sc. Plant Physiology & Biophysics, Mount Allison University
  • M.Sc. Plant Physiology & Biophysics, Mount Allison University
  • Ph.D. Plant Physiology & Biophysics, University of Edinburgh

Research Interests:

  • Contributions of plants to life support, including the technologies and management strategies required to achieve sustainable and bio-regenerative life support for human space exploration
  • Robotic harvesting

Key Takeaways

What to Know:

  • Life support in space is currently based on machines that scrub CO2 out of the air and produce oxygen, maintain pressure, and recycle fresh water. However, all those things plants can do, plus you can eat them.
  • Food limits human space exploration. It determines how far from Earth we can go and how long we can stay.
  • The further away we go, like Mars missions, the more desirable it is to have a self-sustaining bio-regenerative food production system (a.k.a. plants).
  • We can do this using hydroponics, a method of growing plants without soil.

What to Check Out:

Where to Hear More:

Prof Talks is a podcast series hosted by Adam Vassallo. Over 100 days, Adam interviewed 100 notable professors.  He inquired about what led them to their field, their research interests, and their predictions for the future. Learn more at


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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.