Dr. Sheila Kanani MBE
Once upon a time, in London, there lived a girl called Sheila who dreamed of becoming an inventor or a vet.
When she was aged 12, her physics teacher told her that she was naturally good at physics and that made her want to do it more. Then when she was 13, Sheila became interested in space and astronomy. She saw Tom Hanks in Apollo 13 at the cinema and she came out, stared up at the moon and decided then that she wanted to go into space and her passion sky-rocketed from there.
From then on, she knew she wanted to be an astronaut! It made her think about the moon, and how you could go there, and about the whole galaxy – and how we are quite small in it.
As a teenager she decided she wanted to do a PhD in astrophysics. She studied physics, chemistry, maths, Spanish and general studies A levels, then a degree in physics with astrophysics at Manchester University. While she was at university she also did some work experience at Jodrell Bank, and that led to another placement at another radio telescope (ATNF CSIR) in Australia, which helped to inspire her to do the PhD.
She gained a PhD in planetary science and her favourite planet is Saturn. During her PhD, she was involved in analysing data that was being sent back from Saturn by the Cassini mission. The Cassini mission is carried out by a robotic spacecraft that sends information back to Earth. It took seven years to get to Saturn, so receiving its information every day felt incredibly exciting.
Now she promotes the amazing work of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), and tries to encourage people of all backgrounds to take an interest in space. She loves reaching out and talking to people about her favourite subject, Space!
Outside of astronomy, Sheila loves to play hockey and the saxophone. She enjoys listening to music and dancing like no one is watching with her two young children,and curling up on the sofa with a good book, and her six toed cat, Kenneth!