Dr Shawna Pandya – The Citizen Astronaut

Inspirational Keynote Speaker -

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.

About Dr. Shawna

Dr. Shawna 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 artists, 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, 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.

Talks & Topics

On Success, Failure, Resilience & Pushing the Limits

Disruption is the new normal.

Unpredictable situations such including variants in the COVID-19 pandemic have forced organizations to rapidly adapt to new realities.

Teams are now faced with new challenges around productivity, technological capabilities, communications, crisis management, mental health and more.

What can critical situations and extreme environments teach us about adaptability in times of uncertainty? What can we learn from our successes and our failures in this journey?

From simulated space missions underwater, to commanding a simulated Mars mission, to her work as a physician during COVID, Dr. Pandya draws on a unique mix of experiences to show audiences how to thrive in times of uncertainty.

She shares key skills when it comes to cultivating resilience, setting goals, and optimizing performance – as an individual, and as a team.

Audiences will embark upon a riveting online journey into the upsides of isolation, and how these lessons will help us stay productive during extreme situations.

Shawna Pandya helps audiences go from isolated to inspired, and walk away with insights that they can apply to their daily operations.

Key takeaways from this presentation include:

  • Optimizing success in high-pressure environments

  • Leadership and teamwork techniques to apply to tough situations

  • Bouncing back from failure

  • Cultivating resilience

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

In this talk, Dr. Pandya shares her lessons from the medicine, technology and the space sectors, and shares insights on what it takes to build a diverse, equitable team that is designed to perform – and excel.

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.

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.


Dr. Shawna was very well received at the event. Her talk was very inspirational, and the perfect way to close out the conference, after a day of education for the attendees. From what I could see, everyone in the room was in rapt attention as she spoke, and people had some great questions at the end … and lots of selfies were taken with her at the close of everything. I think she was the perfect fit.

Event Planner, PMI – Northern Alberta

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.

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