Spotlight On: Shannon Clarke


Shannon Clarke is the project manager for the Center for Combinatorial Gene Regulation research project. She also serves as assistant director of strategy and operations for the Division of Integrative Genomics in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics. Clarke earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Miami University. She is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and she enjoys cooking and entertaining friends, riding her Peloton, and movie nights with her family. Clark says she is so glad her path led her to Duke after her husband started his residency at Duke in 2008.

What are you most excited about in contributing to this project? 

I am most excited about helping others succeed in their individual goals while ultimately helping patients and their family members.

What was your major in undergrad? Does it align with your career now?

Psychology—it’s useful in understanding what motivates people and how to optimize an individual’s involvement in team.

What do you like most about what you do and in what ways do you inspire others?

I actually love my job. I get to be creative, resourceful, and most days, I learn something new. I am not sure how I inspire others, but I know that I feel inspired every day. I work with a great group of people who celebrate individual ideas and contributions while look to challenge others for the greater good of the team.

What advice would you give to someone who doesn't know exactly what they want to do in undergrad?

Get to know a variety of fields through asking questions, completing internships, shadow positions, etc. Some of the coolest jobs are not known to you when you are trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. Go out and explore.

Who inspired you growing up?

I remember my fifth grade teacher criticizing my classmates for idolizing the Pittsburgh Penguins, recent Stanley Cup champions. She suggested that we should consider idolizing Jonas Salk and those who work on vaccine research. I was reminded of this as I sat in queue to get my long awaited Covid vaccine. While we are not limited on the number of heroes we have, I appreciate this advice more now than I did when I was 11. I have an even greater appreciation for all of the biomedical researchers and clinical providers that pave the way for treatments and prevention and for the teachers and mentors who open our eyes along the way.

What is something you learned recently? 

My 7-year-old son has taught me A LOT about Pokémon. I challenge you to a naming battle. 

If you could choose one meal for the rest of your life…what would it be?

Homemade pasta, salad, and garlic bread.

What are three things you can't live without and explain why?

Laughter -- it really is the best medicine; books -- we all need an escape sometimes; my family -- who would motivate me to read?

What is two fun facts about you?                                         

  • I am my mother’s twin. Not really, but many have mistaken me for her throughout the years especially since I grew up in the same suburb of Pittsburgh as she did.
  • I love playing board games and putting together puzzles. But when I finish the puzzle, I usually take it apart and put it away. It’s the journey for me, not the end result.