In a Facebook post, the Indian-origin astronaut clarified that her work was separate from the work of the Canadian Space Agency and that of NASA. “In light of the many many media reports and interviews over the past 24 hours, I would just like to make a few clarifications about my work and qualifications, as I have noticed more than a few misstatements,” she wrote Feb. 9.
There has been no new announcement, flight assignment or selection of missions with respect to my work as a citizen-scientist astronaut with Project Possum or The PHEnOM Project, she said, adding, “I am no more or less likely to fly than any other member of than these projects than I was 24 hours ago. She however remains a crew member in the work of both projects, she clarified.
“Thank you all for your recent well-wishes and support; it is really fantastic to see such enthusiasm for space and exploration. I am many messages behind, but will get to them all in the coming days,” she said.
While the astronaut selection at the Canadian Space Agency was going on, she was not a part of the selection, she said. “While I have previously interned at NASA-Johnson Space Center, I have no current affiliation with either organization, and would like to clarify that any reports or articles claiming as such are mistaken,” she wrote.
In her Facebook post, Pandya also clarified that she was neither a neurosurgeon nor an opera singer. Any articles stating that I am a neurosurgeon are mistaken. I previously trained in neurosurgery for a short period, however my medical license is in general practice, she noted. “I am not an opera singer; I have sang opera on stage once. It went well and I would do it again; however just as boxing once does not a boxer make, neither does that one event make me an opera singer,” she clarified.
“I look forward to continuing my work as a physician, speaker and citizen-scientist astronaut and aquanaut, and just as importantly, look forward to continuing my work with outreach and education about these projects,” she concluded.
Pandya completed her B.Sc in neuroscience at University of Alberta, followed by M.Sc. in space sciences at International Space University. Thereafter, she got her MD in Medicine from University of Alberta. Pandya, who is trained in multiple languages including French, Spanish and Russian, also wields a black belt in Taekwondo which she frequently tests in various championships, her bio data on the National Space Society website says. She is also a competitive taekwondo athlete and has learnt French, Spanish and Russian.
In her spare time, Pandya is a motivational speaker, promoting entrepreneurship and big ideas. Her recently-launched podcast series TalkMedTech 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.
She also serves as guest lecturer in the University of Alberta’s Technology and the Future of Medicine course. In her LinkedIn profile, Pandya describes herself as being passionate about the two ‘extremes’ of humanity – surviving and thriving – namely furthering technological innovation and human knowledge and tackling humanity’s grandest challenges to effect positive social change.
Pandya previously served as co-founder of CiviGuard, Inc., a Silicon Valley start-up based at NASA-Ames and incubated by Singularity University. CiviGuard’s mission is to save lives in crisis situations by improving coordination, collaboration and communication between key agencies, and also between authorities and civilians.
Her awards include being named a finalist for the 2009 ASTech “Leader of Tomorrow” award for leadership and innovation in science, technology and entrepreneurship, Rhodes scholarship provincial finalist, two-time Peter Lougheed scholar and Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation National Laureate.
(An earlier version of this article, attributing other media reports, had wrongly stated that Shawna Pandya had been shortlisted for a NASA program. It also wrongly stated she was a neurosurgeon. The errors are regretted.)