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SFU BPK Graduate Student
Position Title

Hi! My name is Donya and I’m an MSc candidate at the Aerospace Physiology Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Blaber.

I’ve lived in three countries. I was born in Iran, went to medical school in Hungary, and landed in Canada 7 years ago where I started my BSc in health sciences at SFU. I’m very passionate about human health in extreme environments like space and the deep sea. During my BSc, I designed the very first student-made virology payload for a small satellite to manage HIV in space using an unmanned spacecraft; a project that I started completely out of scientific curiosity. That project opened many doors in space health for me, including my current research. Being a part of humankind’s journey into deep space is what I look forward to every day, and also what makes me love every moment of my graduate studies.

What do you do?
I’m currently studying artificial gravity created by centrifugation as a countermeasure for spaceflight physiological deconditioning. In space, having Earth-like conditions using artificial gravity is a concept growing in popularity and we aim to find the best combination of exercise and artificial gravity to mitigate the physiological downsides of long-term space travel so we can safely travel to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

Any advice you would give to starting graduates?
Be curious and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to tap into areas that may not be in your expertise because that’s what will make you stand out. Most importantly, don’t listen to those who say your dreams are too big. No dream is too big.

What’s your favourite show to binge-watch?
Bones- Besides being scientifically accurate (which doesn’t happen often in shows), the main character, Dr. B, was one of my role models growing up. When I have a scientific dilemma, to this day, I ask myself “what would Dr. B do?”. Don’t watch it if you don’t do well with anatomy and pathology though- you’ve been warned.

Donya was recently given the Excellence in Science Public Engagement and Outreach Award for Students for the many volunteer hours she has devoted to providing STEM educational outreach to the public, especially youth, in the field of aerospace. She founded SFU Aerospace to help students develop technical projects, engage the public about their work and foster entrepreneurship.

This post was originally posted on the SFU BPK Instagram on August 4, 2021.