Tam O'Shaughnessy in Conversation with Michelle Meow
Join us as Michelle Meow brings her long-running daily radio show to The Commonwealth Club one day each week. Meet fascinating—and often controversial—people discussing important issues of interest to the LGBTQ community, and have your questions ready.
Our in-studio guest this week: Tam O'Shaughnessy, Author; Co-Founder and Executive Director, Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego
O'Shaughnessy grew up in California and played professional tennis from 1971 to 1974. During her tennis career, she was ranked as high as No. 52 in the world in women’s singles and as high as No. 6 in the United States in women’s doubles. After retiring from tennis, O'Shaughnessy was the first publisher of the Women’s Tennis Association’s newsletter before going to college to study biology.
O'Shaughnessy earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology. While teaching high school biology, she became interested in how young people learn. O'Shaughnessy went on to earn a Ph.D. in school psychology from UC Riverside and became a professor in that field at San Diego State University. She conducted research on interventions for children with learning difficulties, receiving continuous grant funding beginning in graduate school. She received an Early Career Award from the U.S. Department of Education.
O'Shaughnessy was the life partner of America’s first woman in space, Sally Ride, from 1985 until Ride’s death in 2012. O'Shaughnessy retired from academics early to turn her attention to Sally Ride Science, a company she and Ride founded with three friends in 2001. O'Shaughnessy was named associate professor emeritus at San Diego State.
O'Shaughnessy has extensive experience cultivating girls’ and boys’ interest in reading, math and science. Besides her scholarly work, she has written 13 children’s books, including six with Ride. O'Shaughnessy and Ride’s clear and eloquent writing earned them many honors, including the American Institute of Physics’ Children’s Science Writing Award for The Third Planet. In 2015, O'Shaughnessy published Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America's Pioneering Woman in Space. It was nominated for the 2016 Kirkus Prize for young readers’ literature.
O'Shaughnessy and Ride started Sally Ride Science because they were concerned about the low level of science literacy among young people and the underrepresentation of women in science and technical professions. The company’s strategy was to create innovative programs and publications to spark the interest of girls and boys of all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and to inspire students to envision themselves as scientists and engineers.
O'Shaughnessy served as Sally Ride Science’s COO, overseeing science content and products incorporating that content. She conceived and guided creation of the widely acclaimed Cool Careers in STEM and Key Concepts in Science programs. O'Shaughnessy was the company’s COO from 2009 to 2013, chair of the board of directors from 2013 to 2015 and CEO from 2014 to 2015.
As CEO, O'Shaughnessy negotiated the acquisition of Sally Ride Science by UC San Diego, effective in October 2015. O'Shaughnessy is executive director of the resulting nonprofit organization, Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego, which carries on the original company’s mission. She also serves on Cal State LA’s president’s council and the advisory board for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.
See more upcoming Michelle Meow Shows at The Commonwealth Club here.
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