International Space Development Conference

Shawna Pandya

Featured Speaker: Shawna Pandya

National Technical Program Manager of the Canadian Space Society

Hang out in 0g? Check. Work at NASA? Check. Perform brain surgery? Check. Pilot a plane? Check. Found a company based on a challenge to positively impact 1 billion people? Check, and check. For D r. 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! Her first company, C iviGuard, was founded in response to a challenge to “positively impact 1 billion people in 10 years using technology.” Through CiviGuard, the founding team presented their work at the White House, Google.org and the United Nations Emergency-Telecommunications Committee, and was covered by BBC, Inc. and Entrepreneur magazine.

Through the course of her medical career, Dr. Pandya has trained in neurosurgery, encountering many adventures along the way, including rotations in cardiac surgery in India, orthopedic surgery in Ecuador, reconstructive surgery at Stanford and Aerospace Medicine at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. In addition to NASA, Dr. Pandya has also worked at the European Astronaut Center’s Crew Medical Support Office in Germany and earned a Masters’ degree from the International Space University in Strasbourg, France.

In her spare time, Dr. Pandya is a motivational speaker, promoting entrepreneurship and big ideas. Her recently-launched podcast series T alkMedTech covers developments in medicine, technology and innovation. Previous talks include closing keynote speaker at the 2011 Congress of the Agency for the Science, Technology and Research as a guest of the Singapore government, alongside Nobel Laureates and Harvard Faculty. She has also spoken at TEDxEdmonton 2010, BIL2010, schools, conferences and workshops as far and wide as India, Scotland and South Korea. Dr. Pandya also serves as guest lecturer in the University of Alberta’s Technology and the Future of Medicine course.

Dr. Pandya also comes from a long history of public service and innovation, having previously worked with Dr. Alice Khin, former physician to political prisoner and Nobel Laureate Aun Sung Suu Kyi, to bring attention to the human rights atrocities in Burma. More recently, Dr. Pandya organized #itsoktohelp, an event to demonstrate compassion and provide resources for the needy and homeless. Previously, she served as VP Research for Edmonton’s SHINE inner-city free clinic for high-risk youth, Director of Research & Projects for SEDS-Canada, a national organization promoting space exploration/development and Founder/Director of Step-Up, an anti-bullying initiative for school-aged children. Dr. Pandya has also been a mentor with the CyberMentor program, aimed at promoting careers in science, technology and medicine to young girls.

Her published works include papers on telemedicine for the developing world, on neuroArm, the world’s first intra-operative, MR-compatible image-guided robotic arm for neurosurgery and a book chapter on space technology spin-offs for medical benefit. For her work, she has received many accolades and awards, including being named a finalist for the 2009 ASTech “Leader of Tomorrow” award for leadership and innovation in science, technology and entrepreneurship in Alberta, Rhodes Scholarship semi-finalist and two-time consecutive Peter Lougheed Scholar, the University of Alberta’s highest distinction for excellence in academia and leadership (one of only 5 individuals to have done so). She was a recipient of Strathcona County’s 2012 International Women’s Day Award and the University of
Alberta Faculty of Medicine’s John W. Scott Honor Award awarded “most likely to hold a distinguished position in Medicine.” In 2012, Shawna was named to Alberta Venture’s list of “Next Ten” young leaders to watch and Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40. She has been named the 2013 recipient of the Pride of Strathcona Award Career Achievement and University of Alberta Alumni Horizon Awards and a 2014 recipient of the Edmonton Daughter’s Day Award.

Shawna is also a first degree black belt in Taekwondo (having medaled in International competition), writes, and plays
piano/guitar, sings and composes, having performed in front of crowds as large as 12,000.