Thu, April 18, 2024

“I skipped meals at the hostel and relied on instant noodles for almost 3-4 months to fulfil what I wanted to do.

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Manisha Dwa is Project Coordinator and member of Board of Directors of the Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO). She is Co-founder of the Women in Science Award (WiSA); Co-founder of National Astronomy Olympiad-Nepal; Co-National Outreach Coordinator of International Astronomical Union; Contact Person of National Astronomy Education Coordinators team for Nepal, International Astronomical Union; National Coordinator for Nepal, Universe Awareness and National Coordinator for Nepal for World Space Week. Dwa’s other affiliations are as Team Leader of International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics; Team Leader of International Astronomy Olympiad besides being the first female astro-photographer from Nepal. She is an MPhil Scholar at the Department of STEAM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics), School of Education, Kathmandu University. For her exemplary works and contribution to the field of science, she has been felicitated with several awards incuding Emerging Space Leader - young professional category, International Aeronautical Federation 2016; Hidden No More, Women in STEM, International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), Department of State, United States of America, 2019. Recently, for her work in promoting science education in Nepal via astronomy and space science, she was honoured by Project SSVI (Stars Shine for Everyone) by having her signature listed in the telescopes to be distributed around the world along with the signatures of astronauts and noble laureates. In this edition of Hi5, Manisha Dwa has listed five essential aspects from her life and work that have impacted her jounrey.

Women in Science

Imagine a family of four with husband, wife and two beautiful kids and their wonderful dream. It is always easier when the couple distributes the workload along with income contribution. This is how they can fulfil their dream. Similar is the case with Women in Science. If half of the world’s population is women, then definitely the involvement of women in science will increase the brain capacity of those who can think in the same field such that we can gain better results for a prosperous world. Women are regarded as creators, and hence they will be creative in the newer version of a better world too. Thus, we should promote women in science for a better world with newer innovations with empathetic environment.

Astronomy in Nepal

I have been involved in this field since 2013 and I have not looked back since. Being a Physics graduate I didn’t have much idea about the happenings in the field of Astronomy in Nepal then. So in this respect I must say that we were caught in the old beliefs. After I joined Nepal Astronomical society (NASO), we had a relatively higher number of outreach activities which our volunteers and interns are taking the responsibility for. We are now recognised by International Astronomical Union (IAU) with Suresh Bhattarai (Chairperson, NASO) as the first Nepali as its associate member. Nepal being one of the countries with the greatest number of outreach and educational activities in the astronomy communities in the world (in respect to the ratio of its size and population) has some serious works going on in the field where we are trying to prepare students to cope with 21st century challenges.

Work Mantra

‘Consistency is the key’ - Dr. Rishi Shah, Academician - Nepal Academy of Science and Technology and Founder President of Nepal Astronomical Society), always used to advise me and other young people. This work philosophy has been instilled in me.

Life Decisions

Born and raised in Pokhara, after my Masters when I met Dr. Rishi Shah and Suresh Bhattarai, the current Chairperson of NASO, I shared with my parents about my intention to go to Kathmandu as I wanted to work in the field of Astronomy and Space. Without much hesitation, my parents gave me the permission. I came to Kathmandu and stayed in a hostel. I didn’t have a job so I had to rely on my mother for financial assistance for a long time. In order to curb expenses, I skipped meals at the hostel and relied on instant noodles for almost 3-4 months to fulfill what I wanted to do. So even though I had to undergo some hardships, I would say they were the best decisions.

Book Recommendation

I highly recommend Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, especially for those females who are science enthusiasts. The book was a gift from a dear teacher, Bhupeen Khadka, a writer. Even if one is not a reader, you can watch the film. This book has many similarities and lessons on the challenges we go through every day as woman in science.
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MARCH 2024

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