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Priyanka Das Rajkakati

Systems engineer and doctoral student, Safran, ISAE-Supaéro

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Do not listen to what society tells you you can and cannot do! You have an equally magnificent brain.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am PhD student in Satellite navigation. Apart from that I am also a "space-artist" exploring the gray area between art and science in the context of space research.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

I have always been interested in navigation science and space research - and what better way to combine the two than study satellite navigation technology? Furthermore, it was during a short project at NASA JPL (Pasadena, USA) where I realised I was not very experienced in research, which is why I chose to pursue a PhD. I also work with the European Space agency's International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG) as an artist and research about the importance of culture for humans - especially scientists and astronauts being trained for long duration space missions. Art, Science and Space - three domains I have always been passionate about!

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

Having the profile of a Space Scientist - cum - artist - cum analogue astronaut! Apart from working with ILEWG as an artist and doing my PhD in satellite navigation, I have also had the experience of a lunar simulation mission on the HI-SEAS analog base in Hawai'i as an analog astronaut.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

With eyes to the skies since I was a girl, I have always been interested in Space and the Universe. STEM for me is but a medium to understand the complex phenomena that keep our world running. It's also a domain where I have found a lot of like-minded people : curious about Nature and wondering at its grandeur, but also willing to sweat it out on the seemingly "less interesting parts" (which I personally find beautiful) like repeatedly deriving mathematical equations. Some of these are also artists and with them I am able to explore the far reaches of human capabilities, mixing philosophy and mathematics.

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

I feel that society has attached some false ideas of science being too technical and a "boy-thing". STEM fields are just like any other field - requires dedication and practice in order to develop a skill in STEM, and it is equally accessible to both girls and boys. Do not listen to what society tells you you can and cannot do! You have an equally magnificent brain.

INSPO / FUN FACT

"I don't have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I'm as good as anybody, but no better." - Katherine Johnson