Tam O'Shaughnessy

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Tam Elizabeth O'Shaughnessy
Tam O'Shaughnessy in 2013
Born January 27, 1952 (1952-01-27) (age 62)
San Andreas, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Troy High School
Georgia State University
University of California, Riverside
Occupation Educator
Partner(s) Sally Ride (1985–2012) (Ride's death)

Tam Elizabeth O'Shaughnessy (born January 27, 1952) is an American educator, children’s science writer, former professional tennis player, and co-founder of the science education company Sally Ride Science.[1] She is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Sally Ride Science.

Early years[edit]

O'Shaughnessy was born in San Andreas, California and attended Troy High School in Fullerton, California, where she was active in tennis. As a junior player, she was coached by tennis great Billie Jean King, who loved helping young players develop their skills, just as she had been helped by others. O’Shaughnessy went on to play on the women's professional tennis circuit from 1971 to 1974. She competed in the U.S. National Championships (now known as the U.S. Open) in 1966, 1970, and 1972. Her entry into the 1966 U.S. National Championships at the age of 14 came about by serendipity.

O’Shaughnessy was being coached by Dr. Robert Walter Johnson, a physician who played a key role in the tennis careers of Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe. Johnson was an official of the American Tennis Association (ATA), an organization that promotes tennis for African-Americans but welcomes players of all backgrounds. During the summer of 1966, O’Shaughnessy, who is not African-American, competed in ATA tournaments in addition to U.S. Tennis Association junior events. O’Shaughnessy won the ATA national 18-and-under championship and so was automatically entered in the U.S. National Championship draw. O’Shaughnessy also competed in the 1972 Wimbledon Championships. During her tennis career, she was ranked as high as No. 52 in the world in women's singles on the Women’s Tennis Association rankings and as high as No. 3 in the U.S. in women’s doubles (with Ann Lebedeff). O’Shaughnessy holds national hard-court doubles titles in the junior division (with Ann Lebedeff) and in the women’s division (with Pam Austin).[2]

Career and education[edit]

After retiring from tennis, O’Shaughnessy was the founding publisher of the Women’s Tennis Association newsletter for several years before going to college to study biology.

O’Shaughnessy earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in biology from Georgia State University, and a Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of California, Riverside. She was assistant professor of school psychology at Georgia State University from 1998 to 2001, and then associate professor of school psychology at San Diego State University from 2002 until 2007. O’Shaughnessy’s research on preventive interventions for children with reading difficulties was continuously funded by the U.S. Department of Education starting in graduate school. She retired early to devote her time and energy to Sally Ride Science, and was named professor emeritus at San Diego State University.[3][4]

O’Shaughnessy has extensive experience cultivating girls' and boys' interest in reading, math, and science. Besides being a former science teacher, she is an award-winning children's science writer. O’Shaughnessy began her science writing career in 1990, collaborating with Ride on a children’s book, Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System. O’Shaughnessy has written 12 children’s science books, including six with Ride. Ride and O’Shaughnessy’s clear and eloquent writing style earned them many accolades, including the American Institute of Physics Children’s Science Writing Award in 1995 for their second book, The Third Planet: Exploring the Earth From Space.[5]

As a scientist and educator, O’Shaughnessy became deeply concerned about the underrepresentation of women in science and technical professions. Research shows that young girls like science and have the same aptitude for it as boys. But as they enter adolescence, more girls than boys drift away from science, in part because of subtle stereotypes and lack of role models. In 2001, Ride, O’Shaughnessy, and three like-minded friends – Karen Flammer, Terry McEntee, and Alann Lopes – cofounded Sally Ride Science with the goal of narrowing the gender gap in science. Their strategy was to create innovative programs and books to keep girls engaged and allow them to envision themselves as scientists and engineers. Sally Ride Science gradually broadened its focus. Today the company strives to spark the interest of all students – girls and boys of all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds – in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and careers. O’Shaughnessy became Chair of the Board of Directors of Sally Ride Science in January 2013 and Chief Executive Officer in March 2014.

Before becoming Chief Executive Officer, O’Shaughnessy served as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Content at Sally Ride Science. She helped create the vision for and edited the widely acclaimed series Cool Careers In Science. The series consists of 12 books, each profiling 12 scientists and engineers working in areas from space science, green chemistry, and physics to math, environmental science, and engineering. The Cool Careers books feature female and male scientists of diverse backgrounds who are engaged in active, collaborative work. O’Shaughnessy also guided creation of the Key Concepts in Science series, which includes 12 books in Physical Science, 12 books in Earth Science, and 12 books in Life Science and the Sally Ride Science Academy brought to you by Exxon Mobil curriculum – teacher training on how to engage students in STEM topics and careers. All of the Sally Ride Science teacher training, science books, STEM career books, and hands-on labs are now available in interactive multimedia versions designed to ignite and build student interest in STEM.

Personal life[edit]

O’Shaughnessy was the life partner of astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, from 1985 until Ride’s death in 2012.[6] O’Shaughnessy and Ride also were business partners in Sally Ride Science, and they wrote children's science books together.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Sally Ride, Tam O'Shaughnessy (2009). Mission: Planet Earth: Our World and Its Climate—And How Humans Are Changing Them. Random House Children's Books, ISBN 1596433108
  • Sally Ride, Tam O'Shaughnessy (2009). Mission: Save the Planet: Things YOU Can Do to Help Fight Global Warming! Random House Children's Books, ISBN 1596433795
  • Sally Ride, Tam O'Shaughnessy (2003). Exploring Our Solar System. Random House Children's Books, ISBN 0375812040
  • Sally Ride, Tam O'Shaughnessy (1999, 2006). The Mystery of Mars. Random House Children's Books, ISBN 0517709716
  • Sally Ride, Tam O'Shaughnessy (1994, 2004). The Third Planet: Exploring the Earth from Space. Random House Children's Books, ISBN 0517593610
  • Sally Ride, Tam O'Shaughnessy (1992, 2005). Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System. Random House Children's Books, ISBN 0517581574
  • Tam O'Shaughnessy (2010). Cool Careers in Engineering. Sally Ride Science. ISBN 978-1933798-32-5
  • Tam O'Shaughnessy (2008). Cool Careers in Earth Sciences, Sally Ride Science, ISBN 978-1933798028
  • Tam O'Shaughnessy (2008). Ecosystems. Sally Ride Science, ISBN 978-1933798165
  • Tam O'Shaughnessy (2006). The Inside Story of Earth. Sally Ride Science, ISBN 978-1933798097
  • Tam E. O'Shaughnessy, Kathleen L. Lane, Frank M. Gresham, Margaret E. Beebe-Frankenberger (2003). Children Placed at Risk for Learning and Behavioral Difficulties. Remedial and Special Education, doi: 10.1177/074193250302400103
  • Kathleen L. Lane, Frank M. Gresham, and Tam E. O'Shaughnessy (2002). The Efficacy of Phonological Awareness Training with First-Grade Students Who Have Behavior Problems and Reading Difficulties. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, doi: 10.1177/106342660100900402
  • Kathleen L. Lane, Frank M. Gresham, and Tam E. O'Shaughnessy (2002). Interventions for Children With or At-Risk for Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Pearson, ISBN 9780205321827
  • Tam E. O'Shaughnessy (2000). A Comparison of Two Reading Interventions for Children with Reading Disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, doi: 10.1177/002221940003300304


  1. ^ "Sally Ride Science". 
  2. ^ "USTA U.S. Hard Court Championships". United States Tennis Association. 
  3. ^ "SDSU Emeritus Faculty". San Diego State University. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "Tam O'Shaughnessy". Microsoft Academic Search. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Stein, Ben. "Book Review". American Institute of Physics. 
  6. ^ Mozuch, Mo. "Tam O’Shaughnessy: The Low-Profile Partner of America’s First (Posthumously) Openly Gay Astronaut". International Digital Times. 

External links[edit]