Meet the Filipina Physicist from Kalinga Who Now Works at the European Space Agency

She once dreamt of becoming an astronaut herself. Now, she is inching closer to her goal.

When she was still a student at Bulanao National High School and Tabuk National High School, Gwendolyn Pascua was a constant fixture in regional science fairs. In college, she did not steer far from her dreams of becoming an astronaut when she took up Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics at the University of the Philippines, with a major in instrumentation and condensed matter physics. She also earned her Master of Science Degree in Physics in the same university.

In 2008, she was accepted to a Master’s Degree Courses in Universite de Rennes I in France and Ludwig-Maximilian-Universitat in Munchen, Germany and earned her Doctorate in Experimental Physics at the University of Zurich in May 2014.

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After several years, she is now a full-fledged physicist serving as a ground controller at Biotechnology Resource Center (Biotesc) in Lucerne University in Switzerland, which serves as one of the operation centers of the European Space Agency.

She is part of the mission team conducting all necessary on-the-ground test before sending the astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

They are currently monitoring the trip of French Astronaut Thomas Pequet, who flew to ISS on Soyuz ms-03 last November 17 for a six-month tour, jumpstarting the start of the European Proxima space mission involving 50 science experiments in space.

Though she had gone far, the Filipina physicist remains a Kalinga, at heart. She still remembers how her grandfather would bring her along to peace negotiations.