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Dr. Shawna Pandya

Physician, Scientist-Astronaut Candidate "Doctor Cosmonaut"

For Dr. Shawna Pandya​, life has just been one adventure after another, and she is just getting started. Armed with backgrounds in neuroscience, space, entrepreneurship and medicine, Dr. Pandya has led a life devoted to technology, innovation, social development and, of course, adventure!

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


On Success, Failure, Resilience & Pushing the Limits
Shawna Pandya shares her stories of success and failure, and how that’s helped her build resilience.  There’s so much to be learned from the times that things didn’t go your way.  She knows you can be hard on yourself in a way that is destructive… or a way that is constructive.   You can learn to reframe your experiences and have gratitude to help you move forward.  She shares the value of setting goals, taking steps to reach them, positive self talk and mental rehearsal, and self control.  Pandya encourages – It’s never too late to reach higher.

Leadership Lessons
Being a leader doesn’t mean being at the head of the pack barking out orders. It means stepping back and seeing how things play out and really knowing your team inside out.  Because reaching goals includes enlisting others in a variety of roles, in addition to focus, organization, decision-making ability and commitment.

Education & STEM/STEAM
Dr. Pandya’s role as mentor with CyberMentor, a program that seeks to encourage grade-school girls to explore STEM careers, along with her own personal experiences in STEAM, informs this inspiring presentation for teachers, youth, and audiences interested in the power of science, technology, engineering, arts and math. 

Brain Science & Emotional Intelligence 
Drawing from her experiences in medicine, space, Silicon Valley and martial arts, Dr. Shawna Pandya explores emotional intelligence as the mortar between the bricks; a key facet of nuanced leadership, crucial for building and leading effective teams and creating successful outcomes.

Technology & Entrepreneurship
The world we live in is changing at an exponential pace. Drawing off her experiences as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and from her time at Singularity University, Dr. Pandya explores emerging trends and technologies, offering up tools and exercises fostering innovation, disruption, and ‘big-picture’ thinking.


Global Women of Vision award

  • She is deeply insightful, engaging, entertaining, and an outstanding presenter. Her workshop interaction skills are amazing! I recommend her very highly.

    - Course Coordinator, Technology and the Future of Medicine Course at the University of Alberta

Summary Profile

Dr. Pandya is passionate about the two ‘extremes’ of humanity – surviving and thriving.  She’s interested in furthering technological innovation and human knowledge, and tackling humanity’s grandest challenges to affect positive social change. 

After leaving her career in neurosurgery she went from repeatedly telling herself “I am an absolute disgrace,” to gaining a new sense of being.

In her talks, Dr. Pandya talks passionately about resilience and the lifelong learning she came to embrace from her time with sociopaths, Navy SEALs, martial arts, medicine, astronauts, and from her father.

Dr. Pandya successfully completed Scientist‐Astronaut Candidate training in 2015 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. 

In 2016, Dr. Pandya was named as prime crew for Project Poseidon, which aims to further ocean and space exploration, while setting a world record for “most days spent under the sea.” She also received the Global Women of Vision award in 2016.  

Preparing for space requires more than just knowledge — it involves an incredible amount of mental and physical agility. Outside of her work, Dr. Pandya continues to further develop these skills through martial arts. She holds a black belt in taekwondo, a sport she’s been practicing for over 15 years. She has also travelled to Thailand annually since 2015 to train in muay thai, a full-contact martial art.

@Im_YASH28 @RenuManuja Ha. (2017-02-24 05:10:58)
@arvindparmar004 @RenuManuja Does it count if I looked at it? ;) (2017-02-24 05:10:45)
@arvindparmar004 Walked too close to a parked motorcycle whose exhaust pipe was still hot. (2017-02-24 05:10:21)