Shawna Pandya

Dr. Shawna Pandya is a physician, scientist-astronaut candidate program graduate with the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences/Project PoSSUM, aquanaut, speaker, martial artist, advanced diver, skydiver, pilot-in-training, VP Immersive Medicine with Luxsonic Technologies, Director of Medical Research at Orbital Assembly Construction, and Fellow of the Explorers’ Club. She is also Director of the International Institute of Astronautical Sciences (IIAS)/PoSSUM Space Medicine Group, Chief Instructor of the IIAS/PoSSUM Operational Space Medicine course, a clinical lecturer at the University of Alberta, podcast host with the World Extreme Medicine’s WEMCast series, Primary Investigator (PI) for the Shad Canada-Blue Origin student microgravity competition, member of the ASCEND 2021 Guiding Coalition, and Life Sciences Team Lead for the Association of Spaceflight Professionals. She serves as a medical advisor to several space, medical and technology companies. Dr. Pandya was part of the first crew to test a commercial spacesuit in zero-gravity in 2015. She earned her aquanaut designation during the 2019 NEPTUNE (Nautical Experiments in Physiology, Technology and Underwater Exploration) mission. She previously served as Commander during a 2020 tour at the Mars Desert Research Station.  In 2021, Dr. Pandya was granted an Honorary Fellowship in Extreme and Wilderness Medicine by the World Extreme Medicine organization and named one of the Women’s Executive Network’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, as well as a Canadian Space Agency Space Ambassador. Her career and trajectory have been captured at the Ontario Science Center’s “Canadian Women in Space,” exhibit, alongside Dr. Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman in space (and Dr. Pandya’s idol growing up).

3 words to describe Nature?

Vast. Inspiring. Infinite

3 things Nature taught you?

To be in the moment

To be prepared

That everything else can wait

3 most treasured Nature spots?

The Canadian Rockies

Hapuna Beach, Kona, Hawaii

The sunset over the pond behind my parents' house

When you look at the OCEAN, it makes you feel...?

At peace, knowing that I am one tiny part of infinity.

When you see a FOREST, it makes you feel...?

Like I am at the start of an adventure.

When you see a VOLCANO, it makes you feel...?

Full of awe at nature's power.

When you see a SUNRISE or SUNSET, it makes you feel...?

Grateful and satisfied to be able to have that moment to appreciate.

When you hear THUNDER, it makes you feel...?

Excited for the subsequent storm.

When you hear the WIND HOWLING, it makes you feel...?

Like I am in a mystery or adventure novel!

Are you an OCEAN, MOUNTAIN, FOREST, or DESERT person?

All of the above

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?


Share with us a childhood nature memory?

When I was 14, we went on a survival camp. My best friend and I were only 2 of a handful of girls in a class of over 35. We proudly built and slept in one of the best lean-tos, and managed to keep a fire going all night. We also went caving on that same trip!

Nicole Stott

Nicole Stott has explored from the heights of outer space to the depths of our oceans. In awe of what she experienced from these very special vantage points, she has dedicated her life to sharing the beauty of space ~ and Earth ~ with others. She believes that sharing these orbital and inner space perspectives has the power to increase everyone’s appreciation of and obligation to care for our home planet and each other.

A veteran NASA Astronaut, her experience includes two spaceflights and 104 days living and working in space on both the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). She performed one spacewalk and was the first person to fly the robotic arm to capture the free flying HTV cargo vehicle. Nicole was the last crew member to fly to and from their ISS mission on a Space Shuttle. She was also a crew member of the final flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-133. 

Stott is the first person to paint a watercolor in space, which is now on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in DC.

As a NASA Aquanaut, in preparation for spaceflight and along with her NEEMO9 crew, Nicole lived and worked for 3 weeks on the Aquarius undersea habitat, the longest saturation mission to date.

Now retired from NASA, Nicole combines her artwork and spaceflight experience to inspire creative thinking about solutions to our planetary challenges, to raise awareness of the surprising interplay between science and art, and to promote the amazing work being done every day in space to improve life right here on Earth. She is the founder of the Space for Art Foundation and co-founder of Constellation.Earth.

She recently was featured in the National Geographic documentary series, hosted by Will Smith, about our planet called “One Strange Rock”, she is featured in the award-winning short film “Overview” by Planetary Collective, and she is a regular supporter of BBC radio and TV with a special focus on space exploration and our home planet.

3 words to describe Nature?

Peace. Life. Reflection

3 things Nature taught you?


Everything is connected


3 most treasured Nature spots?

On a space station in awe of the view of Earth from space. 

Bari reef in Bonaire 

My backyard

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel...?

At one with something much bigger than myself. 

When you see a forest, it makes you feel...?

Chilly and wanting to look up and appreciate the majesty of the trees surrounding me. 

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel...?

A little bit of fear, total respect for the power and beauty and unpredictability, and like I should keep a very respectful distance. 

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel...?

Relaxed and in awe and with an increased awareness of the fact that we live on a planet.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel...?

Like curling up on the couch with my dogs. 

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel...?

Like a kid in Florida on the beach before a big rain.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

All of the above. If I had to pick it would be ocean (surrounded by mountains, forests and desert). 

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?


Share with us a childhood nature memory?

On the space station we are traveling at 17500 mph or 5 miles per second, so we orbit the Earth every 90 minutes, which means that every 45 minutes we are presented with a stunning sunrise or sunset out the window. I loved to watch the Earth during the 45 minutes of "night". The glinting lights below outlined where the people were in contrast to the deep darkness of the oceans that cover most of our planet. The ever-changing weather moved above it all. The lightening of a thunderstorm in Florida whipped its way around the planet, flashing light over it like neurons firing across a brain. It was like I was watching all the beautiful action below me with the mute button on. It reminded me of thunderstorms from my childhood when I was growing up in Florida, and how I had imagined that the thunderstorm was happening only over my town, and when it was gone, it was gone. It had never occurred to me that the storm was zooming around the world, like the nervous system of a planet that looked alive. From space, I saw that lightning never exists in one place. It’s constantly on the move. This revelation led me to understand the life-changing truth of the undeniable interconnectivity of everyone and everything on Earth and that whatever happens in one part of the planet affects the whole. The reality check that we live on a planet, we are all Earthlings, and the only border that matters is the thin blue line of atmosphere that protects us all.