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Shawna Pandya

Scientist-astronaut candidate with Project PoSSUM

Dr. Shawna Pandya is a scientist-astronaut candidate with Project ​PoSSUM​, physician, aquanaut, speaker, martial artist, advanced diver, skydiver, pilot-in-training, VP Immersive Medicine with ​Luxsonic Technologies and Fellow of the ​Explorers’ Club​. She holds degrees in neuroscience (BSc Hons. Neuroscience, University of Alberta), space (MSc Space Studies, International Space University), entrepreneurship (Graduate Studies Program, Singularity University) and medicine (MD, University of Alberta), and is completing a fellowship in Wilderness Medicine (Academy of Wilderness Medicine).

Dr. Pandya has an extensive background in space and bioastronautics. In 2015, Dr. Pandya successfully completed Scientist-Astronaut Candidate training with Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) and was part of the first crew to test a commercial spacesuit in zero-gravity; her work with Project PoSSUM and Final Frontier Design was captured in the CBC Documentary, “​We Are Canada​.” She has continued to test commercial spacesuits with Project PoSSUM’s annual microgravity parabolic flight campaigns, and has completed over 140 parabolas in microgravity to date. Dr. Pandya is also the lead instructor for ​Project PoSSUM’s EVA 102: Operational Space Medicine course, which ran its first iteration in Colorado in September 2017. As part of Project PoSSUM, she also completed slow onset hypobaric hypoxia training, centrifuge studies, aerobatic flight, basic, advanced emergency spacecraft egress and sea survival training, and high altitude noctilucent cloud research, as well as courses in celestial navigation, planetary geology, and space physiology and life support systems. She is also an Ambassador and Chair of Strategic Development with​PoSSUM 13​, an organization that makes space opportunities and engagement more accessible to students, particularly girls and young women. Dr. Pandya has previously completed 2-week tours at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) analog in Utah as the Crew Health and Safety Officer, and led a crew as Commander in the first-ever MDRS station-to-station mission January 2020. Her adventures and experiences were recently captured in the ​Land Rover short​, released with the Apollo 11: First Steps film.

In 2019, Dr. Pandya attained her aquanaut designation during the 5-day underwater NEPTUNE (Nautical Experiments in Physiology, Technology & Underwater Exploration) mission at the Jules Underwater Lodge, during which time she served as the crew Health & Safety Officer. During this mission, the NEPTUNE team studied changes in psychology, physiology and cognition related to living and working in saturation dive complex. Also in 2019, Dr. Pandya completed the​World Extreme Medicine Hyperbaric and Dive Medicine Course at Florida International University’s Aquarius Reef Base, where she obtained her Dive Medical Technician designation. Dr. Pandya holds open, advanced, rescue, Nitrox, peak buoyancy and scientific dive certifications.

Dr. Pandya has previously conducted research in space medicine at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the European Space Agency’s European Astronaut Center Crew Medical Support Office Wilderness Medicine. She is currently the Life Sciences Team Lead for the ​Association of Spaceflight Professionals​. She is also the ​International Space Development Conference LaunchPad track Chair, curating a speaking platform for scientists and entrepreneurs working on innovative concepts in space exploration. Dr. Pandya’s research interests center on resilience in extreme environments, and reproduction in long-duration spaceflight. Her published works include articles on neurosurgical robotics, and book chapters on space technology spin-offs benefitting every day medicine on Earth, resilience in long-duration spaceflight and reproduction in long-duration spaceflight. Dr. Pandya is also a professional speaker represented by the ​National Speakers Bureau​, speaking on leadership, resilience, and pushing the limits. In 2020, she joined Luxsonic Technologies as VP Immersive Medicine, where she helps develop VR-based tools for medical education. She also serves as a sessional lecturer with the University of Alberta’s Technology and the Future of Medicine Course.

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