Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Canadian Women Flying High in Space Science and Engineering

Aubrey Bouvier. Photo c/o UWO.

While ex-astronauts Roberta Bondar and Julie Payette are most often mentioned in public statements relating to women involved in the space program, Canada also has a variety of other up and comers who are well worth getting to know. 

Listed below in alphabetical order are a few (but certainly not all), of the more notable:        
  • As described on the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) website, one of the core members of the Mars Phoenix spacecraft Meteorological Station (MET) Canadian science team was MET mission scientist Vicki Hipkin. Dr. Hipkin was described as an atmospheric physicist " fascinated by extreme environments," who studied the atmospheric boundary layer over Antarctic ice shelves, and is interested in atmospheric gases that might be evidence of subsurface activity on Mars. She has also worked with scientists at York University to use MET data to improve atmospheric models of the Mars water cycle and is currently the CSA senior program scientist for planetary exploration.

  • Calgary based Shawna Pandya, has just got to be the only person ever who, when originally rejected for NASA training in 2012, was saddened that she had to fall back on her second career choice of brain surgery. Currently a neurological resident and the chief marketing officer for CiviGuard, Inc., a Silicon Valley start-up based at NASA-Ames and incubated through Singularity University, Pandya is able to combine both and is also a published author on telemedicine, space technology spin-offs for medicine and an expert on the neuroArm, the world’s first intra-operative, MR-compatible image-guided robotic arm for neurosurgery. She also expects many more opportunities to get into space.
  • As outlined in the August 27th, 2013 Women You Should Know article "STEM Rock Star Natalie Panek Is Revolutionizing How We Think About Women In Tech," Calgary based Natalie Panek, has also always wanted to travel to space. According to Panek, "realistically this a huge endeavor to undertake, but I am of the mindset to set the bar really high and enjoy the journey regardless of the outcome. There are really high standards for astronaut selection and the space industry is changing so much right now, that the definition of an ‘astronaut’ could change drastically in the next few years.” Palek regularly speaks at events on leadership, women in technology, space exploration and also founded The Panek Room, a digital destination of resources that promises “revolution, inspiration and adventure” from science, engineering, and technology. As for her day job, Panek is a robotic operator and aerospace engineer at MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA).

The five women above, and the many more who could be listed in an article of this nature, bode well for the future of Canadian space activities. We should embrace their success.


  1. Thanks for featuring Dr. Bouvier! We have posted a link to this post on our website (http://cpsx.uwo.ca/news?post_id=10078)

  2. Just a heads up to note that the women on this list and quite a few others will be highlighted, discussed and assessed during the September 11th, Canadian Press online event "Live chat with Julie Payette on women in space," scheduled on scribble live starting at 1pm EST.

  3. Thank you for adding me. By way of introduction I am posting a one-minute video of my recently released book ROCKET GIRL. It's the true story of America's first female rocket scientist. Looking forward to meeting new people here.



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