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Shannon O’Leary

Associate Professor of Physics

  • Copyright, Steve Hambuchen

Shannon 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.

O’Leary, 39, associate 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.

Professional Experience

Shannon’s publications include articles in the Journal of the Optical Society of Am. B, Physical Review B, and Optics Letters.


Shannon developed an experimental quantum optics laboratory at Lewis & Clark College.  With support from the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement, she worked with Lewis & Clark undergraduate students to study quantum mechanical interactions of laser light with atomic vapor, with an eye towards building a sensitive magnetometer based on these fundamental processes.

Academic Credentials

Ph. D. University of Oregon 2008, M.S. University of Oregon 2004, BS University of Puget Sound 1998

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Shannon O’Leary’s office is located in .

Shannon O’Leary Associate Professor of Physics

Physics Lewis & Clark 0615 S.W. Palatine Hill Road Portland OR 97219 USA