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Community Gathers to Remember Physicists Shannon O’Leary and Adam Clausen

January 25, 2017

A Tribute of Life and Love for Shannon O’Leary and Adam Clausen will be held in Agnes Flanagan Chapel on Saturday, January 28, at 2 p.m. A reception will follow in Stamm Dining Room in Templeton Campus Center. The service is open not only to all members of the Lewis & Clark community but to the family, friends, and colleagues beyond Palatine Hill who wish to gather in memory of Shannon and Adam. If you cannot attend in person, a live stream will be available.

“I was deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved faculty member Shannon O’Leary and her husband, Adam, over winter break,” said Interim President David Ellis. “I knew Shannon only a little, but sometimes you just know when you meet someone and chat a little that they are amazing; Shannon was one of those people. I cannot adequately put into words the feelings—the sorrow and loss—felt by her family and those she taught, mentored, and worked with more closely.”

O’Leary, 39, assistant professor of physics, and her husband, Adam, 37, died in an automobile collision on December 26, 2016. Their 4-year-old son survived the crash.

O’Leary joined the Lewis & Clark faculty in 2011. A highly respected teacher and researcher, she was spearheading an experimental quantum optics laboratory at Lewis & Clark. Much of her work focused on furthering scientific understanding of atom-light interactions as well as producing new techniques for detecting small, unknown magnetic fields. Her research was funded, in part, by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

O’Leary worked closely with students, providing them with invaluable hands on experience and preparing them for careers in research science and other STEM-related fields. “Shannon was a transformative teacher,” says Catherine Gunther Kodat, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “She was one of our stars on the science faculty. She was very much admired and looked up to by all of our students, but especially by our women science students.”

Her husband, Adam Clausen, was a technology consultant at Kolisch Hartwell, an intellectual property law firm in Portland. Clausen also served as an adjunct professor of physics at Lewis & Clark.



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