PSD Spotlight: Shawn Manner

October 18, 2022

PSD’s October spotlight is Shawn Manner, administrative assistant to Professor John Carlstrom of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Shawn is from Michigan City, Indiana, and has been with the University of Chicago since February 2022. We interviewed her about her interests and experiences below.

Shawn Manner
Shawn Manner

What do you enjoy about being a part of the PSD community?

Hands down, the genuine nature of everyone here. I felt right at home soon after starting. I also enjoy learning about the fascinating science taking place.

Tell us a bit about you.

I’m curious by nature. I have a teaching background (mostly in Montessori Education) and dabble in visual arts (mostly fiber arts and mixed media—texture is everything). I’m fascinated with paper, animals and nature (I camp), and growing vegetables. I went to Butler University in Indianapolis. I lived and worked in Japan for seven years and studied in Italy, the birthplace of my mother, for a year.  

Who inspires you?

Ingenious, talented individuals who are humble. People who can see a silver lining in any circumstance. Anyone who can communicate fluently in more than two languages. Artists. My two sisters because they are uniquely themselves and very different from me.

What is the most interesting thing that you are working on right now?

Helping members of the South Pole Telescope Collaboration and the supplies necessary to maintain the telescope deploy to the South Pole. Four crates went out at the beginning of September and the scientists will leave late October/early November.

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?

This is a great question and one I have so many thoughts about. Really, it boils down to making all sorts of space for those with a story unlike your own (especially if you are a Caucasian of European descent, cisgendered person like myself).

Who had the most influence on you growing up?

My mom in my early years and my dad in my later years. My mom is book smart and has knowledge about so many things in this world. She’s such a dynamic personality. My dad is street smart. He knows people instinctively. He’s quick-witted and generous and equally large in character. They’re both involved in philanthropic and community-based endeavors. They’re such a special couple. They raised us three girls to be ultra-independent, honest, and caring. I wish you could all meet them. You’d love them.

What three words best describe you?

I had to ask my family for help with this—both my mom and sister said loyal and tenacious (thorough). The last was a toss-up between kind and funny. That wasn’t three words, I’m aware. That was the toughest question on the list, by far.

If they made a movie about your life, what genre would it be and who would play you?

It would be an Indie film; possibly in the Italian neo-realism realm because, “they created independent films with raw and rough looks, documentary realism, real-life locations, non-professional actors, and natural lighting.” That said, a non-professional, up-and-coming would probably get the role. They would need to be able to cry on-spot and have slight O.C.D. tendencies.

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