Pandya, Ms. Shawna

2009 Finalist: Leaders of Tomorrow

Multitasker Strives For Positive Impact

Shawna Pandya always tries to push herself beyond what she’s already accomplished. And that has meant she is constantly raising an already high bar.

“The way I frame it there are two extremes in humanity: surviving and thriving,” she explains. “And I want to have an impact on as many people as I can by enabling innovative new technologies.” The self-described professional multitasker says her role models are also history’s greatest multitaskers, like Leonardo DaVinci, who was successful in art, design, science, and engineering.

“I admire people who dare to defy boundaries,” she says. “People who push their dreams against huge odds to get their concepts accepted have been a tremendous benefit to humanity.” Ms. Pandya acknowledges that it’s still early in her career and she wants to keep her interests as broad as possible, but medical innovation is the key area she’s interested in.

Currently in the faculty of Medicine at the University of Alberta, Ms. Pandya has already completed an M.Sc. in Space Studies at the International Space University in France and a B.Sc. in Neuroscience at the University of Alberta. Through these fields, Ms. Pandya has established a niche in the field of space technology spin-offs for medical benefit. Her expertise is being tapped for book chapters, conferences, review articles, editorial panels for emerging peer-reviewed journals, and innovative projects.

This summer Ms. Pandya attended Singularity University at NASA-Ames on full scholarship. She was one of 23 international students in a program that brings together emerging experts and leaders to use their areas of expertise—from nanotechnology to medicine to policy and law—to harness accelerating technologies to have a positive impact on one billion people in the areas of water, healthcare, energy, and climate change.

Among her accomplishments to date is the 96-page quick-reference guide that addresses safety topics of concern related to the Autonomous Transfer Vehicle, a delivery vehicle to the International Space Station. Ms. Pandya is fascinated by how space technology has more earthbound applications. One of her favourite examples is telemedicine.

“On Earth, space agencies, the World Health Organization, and national governments are all working to reach more remote areas in the developed and underdeveloped world through telemedical networks,” Ms. Pandya explains. “We want to make sure all of the world’s citizens have portable healthcare.” Based on her space technology research Ms. Pandya produced a business plan for a student-run consultancy to deliver telemedicine in remote areas.

“I want to push the limits of knowledge in medical research, neuroscience and regenerative medicine.”