Meet 4 stellar women who are blazing the trail in the next era of human spaceflight – from commercial spaceflight professionals to budding astronauts to spacewalk operations engineers and more! Join moderator Dr. Shawna Pandya in conversation with these incredible Explorers Club members and fellows as they share their respective journeys, challenges and vision for the future of space.
Shawna Pandya is a physician, scientist-astronaut candidate program graduate with the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS) and 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 Corporation, and Fellow of The Explorers Club. She is also Director of the IIAS/PoSSUM Space Medicine Group, Chief Instructor of the IIAS/PoSSUM Operational Space Medicine course, and podcast host with the World Extreme Medicine’s WEMCast series. Dr. Pandya was part of the first crew to test a commercial spacesuit in zero-gravity in 2015. Dr. Pandya 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. 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).
Kellie Gerardi is a bioastronautics researcher, defense professional and popular science communicator. In June 2021, Kellie was announced as a payload specialist and professional commercial astronaut contracted to an upcoming dedicated research spaceflight with Virgin Galactic, during which she’ll be conducting healthcare and fluid experiments in space on behalf of the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS). In addition to her work in the space industry, Kellie holds a leadership position in global Mission Operations at Palantir Technologies, serves on the Defense Council for the Truman National Security Project, and serves on the Board of Directors for The Explorers Club, whose esteemed flag she carried during a crew rotation at the Mars Desert Research Station. Kellie’s work as a science communicator has attracted nearly a million fans across social media platforms. She is the author of Not Necessarily Rocket Science and the upcoming children’s picture book series LUNA MUNA. Kellie lives in Jupiter, Florida with her husband Steven and their daughter Delta V.
Dr. Tess Caswell
Dr. Tess Caswell is an engineer, scientist, and analog astronaut driven by passion for human space exploration. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a PhD in Geology from Brown University. She has floated in weightlessness, studied the flow of glaciers, and worked in the control room for government and private space missions. As a member of the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) XI crew, she spent thirty days on a simulated space mission to study the effects of isolation and stress on astronaut crews. She is currently a member of the Extravehicular Activities (EVA) team at NASA Johnson Space Center, where she plans spacewalks and helps prepare the next generation of lunar explorers for the Artemis program.
Yvette Gonzalez is a humanitarian, bioastronautics researcher, space suit technician, and human resilience expert. With over two decades of emergency response experience rebuilding communities in active war, conflict, natural disasters, and epidemiological outbreaks, Yvette focuses on space technologies to solve Earth challenges. She carries out her research at the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences. Of Native American and Mexican heritage, she leads efforts providing access to space science & STEM for underrepresented groups and marginalized communities.
Dr. Erika Wagner
Dr. Erika Wagner serves as Payload Sales Director for Blue Origin, where she works to improve access to space for science, technology, arts, education, and entrepreneurs. Previously, Dr. Wagner worked with the XPRIZE Foundation as Senior Director of Exploration Prize Development and founding Executive Director of the XPRIZE [email protected] Dr. Wagner’s interdisciplinary background includes degrees in Biomedical and Aerospace Engineering, with research spanning both human and mammalian adaptation to microgravity, partial gravity, and centrifugation; as well as organizational innovation and prize theory. She is a trustee of Seattle’s Museum of Flight, an honoree of the Space Camp Hall of Fame, and a member of the National Academies Space Studies Board.
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