EOAS undergraduate student Raveen Sidhu selected for the prestigious Brooke Owens Fellowship

February 17, 2023
Raveen Sidhu (credit: Junyi Sun)

Raveen Kaur Sidhu, a Senior studying Microbiology and Oceanography at the University of British Columbia, was awarded the prestigious Brooke Owens Fellowship and will intern with Space Capital this summer. The Brooke Owens Fellowship is a nationally-acclaimed nonprofit program recognizing exceptional undergraduate women and gender minorities with space and aviation internships, senior mentorship, and a lifelong professional network. Raveen was one of 47 students selected internationally this year and one of three Canadians selected over the fellowship’s six years of existence. Scroll down to watch our interview with Raveen!

“I had my first impression of space when I was about seven years old and my mom took my brother and me to watch the Hubble IMAX movie. We saw all those unreally beautiful galaxies that felt like coming at us,” said Raveen. As she grew older, she fell in love with space and had several related research and outreach experiences, such as looking at a dark matter detector and its algorithms at SNOLAB and presenting at conferences on STEM outreach, particularly, in space, “because I hope that there are more structured programs for students in the future.”

When talking about what she thought made her stand out from almost 1,000 applicants worldwide, Raveen said that it was owing to her outreach and leadership experience. One of the most impactful experiences for her was the time when she led a STEM outreach program about a space-themed escape room for youth at the University of Manitoba. She has also joined the International Astronautical Space Congress and attended several conferences in the past. “I think I was able to show that I have the curiosity for space, a skillset for space outreach, and the passion to give back to my local community,” said Raveen.

The combination of Microbiology and Oceanography has helped her pursue a career in aerospace, said Raveen. “It gave me a great lens of framework to understand how life can persist in extreme environments, which is relevant to space research despite not being directly related.” She was also thankful to the professors in both departments who offered advice to her on how to get involved in research and to stand out as an applicant. Additionally, both majors have helped her acquire technical skills, such as programming, which is useful for data analysis in aerospace studies, and science communication skills.

Raveen said that she was very excited about interning with Space Capital, which was one of her dream internships for its emphasis on multidisciplinary backgrounds and its focus on space technology investments. Raveen said it was her microbiology and oceanography background that informed the Space Capital team on starting a project on applications and investment of oceanographic satellite s, which is right at the intersection of her degree.

The Brooke Owens Fellowship celebrates its ongoing mission and legacy of disrupting the historical gender imbalance in the aerospace industry. When talking about feelings of being part of women in science, Raveen said she was blessed with a great representation of women in science in the EOAS department. “I have always been inspired by the women scientists in our department. When I got a little uncertain about what I’m doing, they always empowered me and helped me improve my skills in scientific research and science communication. We have so many great scientific role models in the department, who are approachable, patient and supportive.”

Raveen also provided her advice to students who want to get involved in the space industry. “Even if you think your program and skillsets are not matched enough to the space industry, remember it is the passionate, curious person who is willing to learn that is powerful. Get involved – join the Rocket club, join the satellite club, take a look at conferences even if you're not presenting, and talk to people, who would love to point you to opportunities to get involved in space.”