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BCIL Speaker Series: Space Medicine
by Sarah Bishop, BCIL Extracurricular Innovator and Collaborator

In an exciting BCIL Speaker Series for all students in grades 6-12, Dr. Shawna Pandya explored challenges of space exploration and life on Mars. Currently Dr. Pandya is the Director of Medical Research at Orbital Assembly Corporation and is a scientist-astronaut candidate with Project PoSSUM. Part of a small group of 13 female scientist-astronaut candidates, Pandya serves as a global STEM ambassador creating opportunities for young girls in space research. 

During the event Dr. Pandya shared her own professional journey and then posed a live challenge revolving around the hazards of space and asking students to design a product or technology that could help humans survive on Mars.

Students brainstormed in groups and offered a range of creative solutions:

  • Pre-travel injection to protect against bone density loss
  • Water as a radiation shield in a habitat
  • Sunscreen that protects from the UV radiation
  • Finding a way to make shelters from martian soil so you can store supplies
  • Using holograms if future tech evolves to mimic social experiences (like seeing family/community) that would help with the psychological challenges of living in a remote environment—almost like Facetime, but with holograms

Students and faculty alike met the challenge with enthusiasm and shared their ideas to the interest and delight of Dr. Pandya!

Dr. Aidyl Gonzalez, a BCIL Curriculum Innovator and Collaborator and an Upper School science teacher, is also a member of PoSSUM-13 and shared this reflection on Dr. Pandya:

"Shawna is an incredible and inspirational colleague (and friend) who exemplifies 'if I can dream it, I can do it!' Personally, Shawna has helped me not only professionally as we collaborated on projects but she knows how to authentically lift others up to shine."

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