Canadian-born neurosurgeon Shawna Pandya is set to be the third woman of Indian origin to fly in space, Hindustan Times reported. One of two candidates selected from more than 3,000 applicants, Pandya will accompany eight astronauts as part of the Citizen Science Astronaut programme in 2018.
Currently in Mumbai, she told the English daily that she will be conducting experiments in bio-medicine and medical science as part of the Polar Suborbital Science project in the Upper Mesosphere, an initiative to study the impact of climate change.
In an interview with CBC, the 32-year-old had said her fascination with astronomy began as a 10-year-old. “All my junior high school science projects or reports were space related. I think the idea of doing something that is so adventurous and really pushes the bounds of exploration really resonated with me,” Pandya said.
Pandya is also a opera singer, author, taekwondo athlete and has trained in Muay Thai, the English daily reported. While in India, Pandya has been speaking with students about her career and projects. “When I talk to students, medical undergraduates, I realise they have the zeal to venture out, but are not always aware of the ways in which they can. All we need is to get acquainted with everyday developments in science, be resilient and always try to achieve something bigger,” she told the English daily.
She is a key member of Project Poseidon, a 100-day underwater expedition at the Aquarius Space Research Facility in Florida.
Addemdum: On February 10, 2017, Shawna Pandya clarified that reports had misstated her selection to fly to space, there had been “no new announcement, flight assignment or selection of missions” with respect to her work with the Citizen Science Astronaut programme.