"Since I was a kid, I loved space, I loved the stars. So this kind of is a realisation of a life-long dream," says Shawna Pandya who is set to become the third Indian-origin woman to travel in space. The 32-year-old will undertake the expedition with eight others in 2018.
A neurologist by profession, Pandya works as a general physician at the Alberta University Hospital in Canada. On her expedition, she will be conducting experiments with bio-science and medical science, as well as studying the effects of microgravity on health and physiology. She will also study climate change as a part of the Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere (PoSSUM) project.
The Mumbai-born Canadian doctor is one of the two candidates selected from 32,000 people under the Citizen Science Astronaut programme. "All my junior high science projects or reports, they were all space related ... I think the idea of doing something that's so adventurous and really pushes the bounds of exploration, and the fact that you'd get to space really, really resonated with me," Pandya told CBS.
So, after she earned a B.Sc. in Neuroscience, she went on to do her post graduation in space sciences from the International Space University. She then pursued her MD in Medicine from the University of Alberta.
It isn't just her academic record that impressive. Pandya is an international taekwon-do champion and Hindustan Times reports that she trained with a Navy SEAL in Muay Thai. According to a report in the Indian Express, she is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and has even walked the runway as a model. Add to that her fluency in Russian, French and Spanish.
It seems that space exploration is not the only thing on this brilliant young woman's mind. She is also an integral part of the team preparing to undertake a 100-day underwater mission called Project Poseidon, at the Aquarius Space Research Facility in Florida.
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