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Dr. Shawna Pandya

Physician Surgeon & Citizen Scientist-Astronaut Candidate

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, Shawna 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. Dr. Pandya shares the value of setting goals, taking steps to reach them, positive self talk and mental rehearsal, and self control. She 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
From flying cars to 3D printers, the world is a fascinating place, and there is a role for everything and everyone who wants to contribute! In this talk, Dr. Pandya shares her experiences in the STEM fields, from space to medicine to technology, including her time at the International Space University, training as a physician in neurosurgery and general practice, to founding a company based on a challenge to positively impact 1 billion people in 10 years using accelerating technologies, and training as a citizen-scientist astronaut. She delves into the programs and platforms that helped her get to where she is today, sharing insights and lessons learned along the way.

Brain Science & Emotional Intelligence 
Drawing from her experiences in medicine, space, Silicon Valley and martial arts, Dr. 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
  • Absolutely loved having her at our annual conference. She is amazing!

    - Chief Creative Officer, Planetree

Summary Profile

Shawna 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, Shawna 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.

She 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, Shawna 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, Shawna 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,

Fashion tip: don't forget to birdcessorize. ❤🐣📿 https://t.co/9Qeg8H5VfB (2019-12-15 11:43:24)
Nurses are the real MVPs. 👇🏾❤🏥 https://t.co/BOC87I1DYb (2019-12-15 11:03:56)
Thanks @epaatdahlstrom for the @SpaceBaseNZ podcast chat on space, teamwork, resilience & more! 🚀🏥🌠👩🏽‍🚀 You can li… https://t.co/h7e0SOtINs (2019-12-14 08:59:00)