Dr. Michael A. Dixon

Dr. Mike Dixon is the Director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility and program,, University of Guelph. Dr. Dixon joined the University in 1985 as an NSERC fellow after earning his PhD from Edinburgh University in Scotland and is now a full professor.

Through his leadership a multidisciplinary team of scientists were successful in securing a Canada Foundation for Innovation grant with matching support from the Ontario Innovation Trust to build the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) at the University of Guelph. The 850 sq. m. facility provides a complete research venue suitable for measurement of plant growth, gas exchange, volatile organic compound (VOC) evolution, and nutrient remediation in a precisely controlled environment. The Facility is comprised of 24 sealed environment chambers including 14 variable-pressure plant-growth hypobaric chambers capable of sustaining a vacuum. The Facility is the most sophisticated and largest research venue in the world specifically dedicated to studying plant and microbial interactions in advanced life support systems.

Off campus he is the technical exchange coordinator for the International Advanced Life Support Working Group (IALSWG) which is a strategic planning group offering information and personnel exchange between international space agencies such as CSA, NASA, ESA, RSA and JAXA (Japan). From 2004 – 2011 Dr. Dixon served as Chair for the Space Exploration Advisory Committee of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and is a member of the Life Sciences and Technical Committee within the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.  He is also a member of the recently formed Space Exploration Planetary Consultation Committee of the Canadian Space Agency.

As project leader for the Canadian research team investigating the contributions of plants to life support in space, Dr. Dixon formed the Space and Advanced Life Support Agriculture (SALSA) program at the University of Guelph. This program currently represents Canada’s prime contribution to the International Space program objectives in Life Support.

Dr. Dixon is also the project leader for the research team at Guelph investigating the biofiltration of indoor air as a method of alleviating what is commonly known as "sick building syndrome".

University Committee and Administrative Service:


  • Professor, School of Environmental Sciences (formerly Environmental Biology) (current)
  • Chair, Environment Systems Research Facility (2003-2008)
  • Division Head, Horticultural Science Division (99-2001)
  • Chair, Plant Agriculture Greenhouse Committee (89-2000)
  • Environment Systems Research Facility/Horticultural Science Operating Committee (91-95)
  • Horticultural Science Promotion and Tenure Committee (95-97)
  • Chair, Social Committee (85-92)
  • Horticultural Science Graduate Admissions Committee (88-93)
  • Faculty Advisor, Horticultural Club (85-87)


  • Director Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) (1998-present)
  • Director and Research Committee Chair, Biological Systems for Space and Terrestrial Applications, a CFI/OIT project (98-present)
  • Senate (98-2001, 2003-2008)
  • Senate Committee on University Planning (99-2001)
  • Multi-Media Fund Selection Committee (97-99)
  • Departmental Restructuring Committee (95-99)
  • OAC Information Technology Committee (86-93)
  • Chair, Inter-Departmental Plant Physiology Program (87-90)
  • OAC Alumni Banquet Chair (88)
  • Bovey Complex Building Committee (86-91)
  • Plant Bio-Technology Centre (87-91)
  • OAC Faculty Party Committee Chair (89)
  • OAC Awards Committee (88-93)

Tomatosphere is supported by Let's Talk Science, the Canadian Space Agency, HeinzSeed, Stokes Seeds, the University of Guelph, and First the Seed Foundation.