Shawna Pandya Biography

(Canadian Citizen-Scientist Astronaut)

Born In: Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

Shawna Pandya is a Canadian citizen-scientist astronaut and aquanaut candidate with project ‘PoSSUM’ and project ‘PHEnOM’. She is also a general physician and a motivational speaker. She dreamt of becoming an astronaut as a teenager. With deliberate drive and endurance she chased her dreams and over the years acquired success. Apart from the numerous laurels she has earned, Shawna has also piloted a plane, written a chapter on space technologies in pace technology application in every day medicine, assisted in a paediatric cardiac surgery, co-launched a company named ‘Civiguard’, which launched in response to a challenge to positively impact 1 billion people in 10 years. She has also been an intern at NASA- Johnson Space Center. When not at work, Shawna practices Taekwondo and indulges in music by singing and playing the guitar and piano. Possessing a benevolent spirit, Shawna has extended generous support to various charity organizations and was closely associated with SHINE clinic - catering to at-risk youths in the Edmonton area. With an undying thirst for knowledge, she hopes to motivate generations to come and vouches to educate the youth about projects she is presently working on.

Quick Facts


father: Satish Steve Pandya

mother: Indira Pandya

siblings: Neil Pandya

Born Country: Canada

Astronauts Scientists

Childhood & Early life
Shawna Pandya was born in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada to parents of Indian ethnicity who hailed from Mumbai, Maharashtra. She was raised with her brother in Alberta.
As a student she worked hard to score excellent grades in mathematics and science. Though she preferred studying mainly science, she did equally well in languages and history in school.
Everything intrigued her as a child, and knowledge had no limits according to her. She wanted to grow up and explore beyond the skies so she kept reading and learning.
As she stepped into her teens, she began dreaming of becoming an astronaut. After graduating from high school, she sought admission at the ‘University of Alberta’ in the field of neuroscience.
After completing her degree in Honors Neuroscience, she decided to do her MD and also take up the ‘International Space University Masters Program’.
She applied for both programs, and to her delight she was accepted into both. Hence, she took a one year deferral from medical school to attend the ‘International Space University Masters Program’.
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Early Career
Before pursuing the citizen-astronaut course, she worked in the Crew Medical Support Office at the ‘European Astronaut Centre’ in Germany.
She also conducted a series of tests on the ‘neuroArm’, which is a robot designed to perform neurosurgery at the ‘University of Calgary’. With her constant yearning to explore space, she founded the ‘University of Alberta Faculty of Space Medicine (now Extreme Medicine) Club.
She has also helped develop and organise ‘Students for the Exploration and Development of Space- Canada’ also known as SEDS-Canada, as the Vice President of Research and Development.
During the initial years of her career, Shawna exhibited great interest in various domains of search especially in the field of medicine and space. She has also presented papers on telemedicine and is keen on researching space medicine and enhancing technology for healthcare.
PoSSUM & PHEnOM Programs
In 2016, she got the opportunity to work and train as a citizen-scientist astronaut candidate under two major projects – Polar Suborbital Science of the Upper Mesosphere (PoSSUM) and Physiological, Health and Environmental Observations in Microgravity (PHEnOM).
In 2016, she also began training for the ‘Poseidon’ project as a member of the aquanaut crew. The program is a 100 day underwater sea reach exploration. Project Poseidon will commence in the year 2018.
At ‘PoSSUM’ her goal is to study noctilucent cloud formation and also its composition by the means of suborbital flight. For ‘PHEnOM’ she will focus on studies pertaining to human physiology and performance measures at the laboratory in both- microgravity and suborbital flight.
Though both these missions do not require any space exploration but with projects she will have to pass the 100 km Karmen line, which is the outer space defining boundary and hence will be acknowledged as an astronaut.
Owing to her vast knowledge and impressionable career graph, she has also taken up motivational speaking. Apart from being a lecturer at the University of Alberta, she also visits schools and colleges globally to motivate students and open avenues in the world of medicine and science for them.
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Major Works
Shawna Pandya is a co-founder of ‘CiviGuard Technologies’ at Silicon Valley. The company’s aim is to use smartphones for disaster response.
As the brand’s Chief Medical Officer she manages partnerships, alliances and also assists in the development of ‘CiviTriage’ which is a smartphone tracking system for patient triage.
Awards & Achievements
In 2009, she was named a finalist at the ASTech ‘Leader of Tomorrow’ for innovation and leadership in science, entrepreneurship and technology in Alberta.
She has also been named as one of the five bright scholars to be titled the ‘Peter Lougheed Scholar’ at the University of Alberta, which is considered the highest distinction for merit in leadership and academics.
In 2012, she received the ‘International Women’s Day Award’. The same year she featured on Alberta Venture’s ‘Next Ten’ list of young leaders.
In 2013, she won the ‘Pride of Strathcona Award’ in career achievement. The following year, she took home the ‘Edmonton Daughter’s Day Award’.
She is also a certified first degree black belt in ‘Taekwondo’ practicing the sport for over 17 years and has won a medal at an international competition.
Shawna has been a part of the entertainment industry as well, she has walked the ramp before and has sung at an opera show. She has also sung the national anthem in front of ten thousand people.
A philanthropist in spirit, she recently launched a charity event ‘#itsoktohelp’. The event provided a platform for people to assist the downtrodden and destitute by providing them with various resources.
Promoting education amongst young girls, she became a mentor at the ‘Cyber Mentor Program’ which aims at establishing the career of young intellectual women in the fields of science, medicine and technology.
Ms. Pandya has an unceasing history of explorations and adventures. She managed to strike off another adventure on her checklist when she meditated in silence at the forests of Quebec for 10 days.
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