02/27/2015 10:49 EST | Updated 04/29/2015 05:59 EDT

Leonard Nimoy inspired H.R. MacMillan Space Centre astonomer to study space

An astronomer at Vancouver's H.R. MacMillan Space Centre said Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played the character Spock in the Star Trek film and television series, inspired him to study deep space.

Nimoy recently died after a battle with lung disease. He was 83 years old.

Nimoy played Spock as Star Trek's half-human, half-Vulcan, hyper-logical science officer.

Derek Kief, an astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, grew up watching the show with his dad.

"It was really the idea that science is cool," said Kief. "It really sparked that wonder and awe of there is so much out there that we don't know."

Kief said although the latest Star Trek movies are action-oriented, the original series was more about exploration.

"For me, Star Trek really was this grappling point of space is wondrous, space is amazing, and it's totally cool to be a little geeky," said Kief.

The show's multi-racial cast also inspired in Kief the idea that space exploration could allow people to put aside their differences to share a common goal. 

Kief sees this idea demonstrated today as American and Russian scientists work side-by-side on the International Space Station, despite political differences in the world down below.

He said he's spoken with others in his field who were similarly inspired by Nimoy and his character. 

"He was this inspirational figure in the community and in a place where, at the time, a lot of times it wasn't cool to be a geek," said Kief.

Kief is confident that Nimoy's inspirational qualities will continue to inspire others like him to consider space exploration and to be curious more generally.

"His character, who he was and the role that he played in science fiction as well as in science in general, will definitely continue to live on," said Kief.

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Leonard Nimoy and Spock inspired local astronomer to study space.