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Physics professor and Jesuit taught for more than 50 years at Creighton University

Fr. Thomas McShaneOMAHA, Neb. (Oct. 18, 2018) – The Rev. Thomas McShane, SJ, did not see a conflict between science and being a good Christian, and as a physicist he saw that as an opportunity to have more knowledge about God’s creation.

Fr. McShane died Wednesday in Milwaukee at the Jesuit retirement community of St. Camillus. He was 89.

Fr. McShane taught physics at Creighton University for 50 years, beginning in 1963. In 1990 one of his master’s students was Michael Anderson, the astronaut killed during the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003. Anderson had completed his master’s thesis, “Fractal Interpolation and Affine Transformations Applied to Syntactic Pattern Recognition,” with Fr. McShane.

Fr. McShane worked for 20 years with the STAR Collaboration, a high energy nuclear physics experiment, during its early stages at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its commissioning and operation at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He was a co-author of more than 100 refereed publications.

He was a dedicated and creative teacher. Former colleague, Michael Cherney, PhD, who worked with Fr. McShane at Creighton and on the STAR Collaboration, said he had a way of drawing out the best in students.

“Tom’s unrecognized gift was befriending those students who were not among the mainstream or the popular,” said Cherney. “He had a talent for drawing out the best in these students, influencing what they value and seeing that they realized their unseen potential.”

Fr. McShane was born in Omaha in 1929 and attended St. Margaret Mary Grade School and Creighton Prep. He entered the seminary in 1947 and was ordained in 1960.


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