Graphic - Clark College News and Events

Clark College News and Events

April 22, 2009

For Immediate Release

For additional information: 

Barbara Kerr, Executive Director of
Communications and Marketing Telephone:  360-992-2921

E-mail:  bkerr@clark.edu



Clark College professor Dick Shamrell will reach for the stars
as part of the college’s spring 2009 Faculty Speaker Series


Clark College professor Dick ShamrellVANCOUVER, Wash. – Clark College invites you to embark on a celestial voyage through the southern skies with esteemed physicist and astronomer Dick Shamrell on Wednesday, May 6.  A lecture and star party, which are free and open to the public, will be the spring event in the college’s 2009 Faculty Speaker Series.

The lecture will take place from 7-8 p.m. in the Penguin Student Lounge.  It will be followed by a star party at 8:30 p.m. at the Clark College Chime Tower.  The Penguin Student Lounge is located in the Penguin Union Building on the college’s main campus.  Clark College is located at 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver.  Maps and driving directions are available at www.clark.edu/maps.

Shamrell, who was named one of the college’s Exceptional Faculty Award honorees in 2005, promises to make the event fascinating and fun as he shares his love of astronomy and physics and his discoveries during a recent journey to Australia.  “We’ll explore this hidden universe of Aboriginal stories, an upside down moon, and a galaxy far, far away,” he said.  “We will see our Milky Way and other celestial formations from ‘Down Under’ – a different view from the stars in our northern hemisphere.  We’ll glimpse of the southern cosmos while learning how stars are both scientific and cultural ambassadors.”

He added, “After the presentation, we will view our northern skies through Clark College telescopes on the main campus lawn near the chime tower.  Saturn and the moon will be spectacular! Hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows served during the break!”

Shamrell notes that 2009 is the “International Year of Astronomy” marking the 400th anniversary of using a telescope to magnify the moon, planets and stars beyond what the eye can see.  In 1609, Galileo first turned a telescope on the skies in a systematic way, revolutionizing man’s view of the world and the universe, and beginning modern astronomy.

About Dick Shamrell

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Dick Shamrell received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy from Senator Mark O. Hatfield and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in physics.  After receiving pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas.  Shamrell served as an instructor pilot at Laughlin.   He went on to earn a master of arts degree in management and human relations from Webster University. 

Shamrell was trained to fly the General Dynamics F-111 at RAF Upper Heyford, UK where he met his future wife, Ellen.  He remembers, “I got to fly faster than Mach 2 and trained for low-level (200 feet-terrain-following), high speed missions.”  He did more pilot training stateside and was then assigned to Ankara, Turkey.   After retiring from the Air Force in 1993, Shamrell focused on raising his family during his wife’s final Air Force assignment at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.  During that time, he continued his studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, graduating with a master of science degree in physics.  

Returning to the Pacific Northwest, Shamrell started teaching physics and astronomy at community colleges in the Vancouver-Portland region.  He joined Clark College full-time in 1999.  At Clark, he has taught and helped develop the curriculum for almost all of the courses in the physics department.  He has served as department chair and co-division chair for the Physical Sciences and Engineering Division of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Department. 

For his contributions to the college, Shamrell was named a recipient of the college’s Exceptional Faculty Award in 2005.  Shamrell also established Washington State University Vancouver’s observational astronomy course, which he has taught for approximately five years. 

Shamrell says his interest in astronomy “was stimulated by the gift of a small telescope for my 7th birthday -- the year after Sputnik was launched.”  He added, “I helped instruct the stars to my fellow Boy Scouts and have since participated in astronomy outreach to K through 12 and interested groups, as well as the astronomy events of the Science Olympiads hosted by Clark College.” 

Shamrell is a member of the Rose City Astronomers Club, based out of OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry).  In May and June of 2008, Shamrell took a sabbatical to New South Wales, Australia where, he notes, “I was able to complete my view of the universe with the southern stars.”


About the Clark College Faculty Speaker Series

The Faculty Speaker Series, established by Clark College with support from the Clark College Foundation, honors individual faculty members and celebrates academic excellence.  

Each fall, winter and spring quarter, the Faculty Speaker Series showcases experiences that have enriched both the life and teaching of a Clark faculty member.  Throughout the series, faculty members share their developmental experiences with the college community – and members of the community at large – while addressing some of today’s most intriguing issues.  


EDITORS’ NOTE:   The lecture will take place rain or shine.  If the weather isn’t suitable for a star party, Shamrell will announce a “rain date.”

Pixel Shim