Astronauts are scientific experts who explore outer space. They also do experiments that help us learn about the universe around us.

$90,000 - $150,000+

University Degree

High Demand

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Dr. Shawna Pandya


Dr. Shawna Pandya is a citizen-scientist astronaut candidate and physician completing training in Enhanced Surgical Skills as well as a Fellowship in Wilderness Medicine. She has always been driven to push her limits, and part of what drives her is trying to find those limits – and then push even further. 

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As part of her citizen-scientist astronaut candidate training, she has taken part in microgravity flight campaigns to test commercial spacesuits, high altitude noctilucent cloud cloud campaigns, centrifuge studies, emergency spacecraft egress and sea survival training, land survival school and simulated Mars missions. She is also a speaker with the National Speakers Bureau, and has given talks in Singapore at the invitation of the Singaporean government, at former Canadian Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell’s invitation, as well as two TEDx talks. She is an accomplished martial artist and holds a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, having fought at Worlds in 2016, and dabbles in Muay Thai, having fought (and won) in her first amateur fight in Thailand in 2017. She holds her solo sky-diving license and open water, advanced, rescue and Nitrox SCUBA diving certifications, and is currently working towards her private pilot’s license. She is fluent in English, French and Gujurati and speaks basic Russian and Spanish.

What is your educational background?
Shawna hold degrees in Honors Neuroscience (BSc., University of Alberta), Space Studies (MSc., International Space University) and Medicine (MD, University of Alberta). She has completed her residency in Family Medicine (CFPC, University of Alberta), and is concurrently working on a Fellowship in Wilderness Medicine through the Academy of Wilderness Medicine and completing a residency in Enhanced Surgical Skills through the University of Saskatchewan).

What are your daily responsibilities?
Shawna’s daily responsibilities vary widely, depending on the day, but can include seeing patients in the hospital, clinic or ER, delivering babies, operating, performing endoscopies, writing research papers, working and training with her fellow citizen-scientist astronaut candidates to gather scientific data and/or test and train new equipment while honing their skills as a team, and performing science outreach and giving talks to schools, organizations and companies alike.

What hurdles did you face?
There have certainly been hurdles and obstacles throughout my career, but when faced with adversity, I prefer to step back and think of it as a character-building exercise, that challenges me to think differently, and attack the problem in a different way.

What advice would you give to the 15-18 year old version of yourself?
There is never a time when it is okay to do anything other than your very best and give 110%, every minute of every day. Never let anyone tell you that you don’t belong here or you cannot do what you want to do because of you background, race or gender. Set out to become the best. Act like you belong here – because you do.


Core Responsibilities


 Participate in space missions and undergo extensive training


May do spacewalks to repair satellites or the shuttle or provide support to astronauts in space


 Conduct experiments with the spacecraft itself to develop new concepts in design, engineering, and the navigation of a vehicle outside the Earth’s atmosphere

Typical Workplace

  • Employed by the Canadian Space Agency
  • Spend a lot of time in simulated space environments during training
  • The work is often stressful. Space travel is dangerous and physically demanding
  • Live in cramped quarters with several other people while in space

Attributes & Abilities 

Creativity Skills
Analytical and problem-solving skills
Organized & detail-oriented
Scientific skills
Collaborative Skills
Computer skills
Grade 11

English (ENG3C/U)
Mathematics (MCR3U)
Chemistry (SCH3U)
Physics (SPH3U)
Cooperative Education (Recommended)

Grade 12

English (ENG4U)
Mathematics (MHF4U & MCV4U)
Chemistry (SCH4U)
Physics (SPH4U)

*Additional 4U/M Courses For University Candidates*

Related Post-Secondary Programs:



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