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Obituary: Prof. Dr. Shawn Bishop (1971 - 2021)

2021-10-29 – News from the Physics Department

The Physics Department mourns the untimely loss of Prof. Dr. Shawn Bishop. After a long and serious illness he passed away on 19th October 2021, just a few days before his 50th birthday.

Prof. Dr. Shawn Bishop
Prof. Dr. Shawn Bishop (1971 - 2021) – Photo: Eckert & Heddergott / TUM

Shawn Bishop joined TUM’s Physics Department in 2008 as professor of nuclear astrophysics. He pursued this interdisciplinary research field by bringing together experts ranging from Nuclear Physics and Chemistry to Astrobiology, Geology and Anthropology.

After major contributions to the success in time resolved fingerprint detection of galactic 60Fe using magneto fossils from the Pacific Ocean he embarked on a new venture, to search for r-process 244Pu in selected sediments. He himself, together with different teams of geologists, from the Atacama Desert in Chile, and the Turkana Basin in Kenya, collected several series of samples. Always equipped with his chisel and a GoPro camera, he lead several expeditions to collect well dated fossils to answer the still open major question: “Are Core Collapse Supernova the source of r-process nuclei?”

Expedition Prof. Dr. Shawn Bishop
Journey – Image: Merlin Stadler

He was an active member of the SFB1258 “Neutrinos and Dark Matter in Astro- and Particle Physics” proposing pioneering missions and transdisciplinary studies in nuclear astrophysics. Being convinced that his latest results will be a major break though for the field, he was working until the last week of his life to get them published, a task which now has to be finished by his students.

We lost a talented, brave, and passionate scientist and teacher who always searched for evidence, never afraid of the unknown and with an unbreakable will to live. He loved teaching and was leading student’s ranking for the Physics Courses in English for a long time. Lecturing was, even when already marked by his destiny, a source of great joy for him and highly appreciated by his students.

We will always remember Prof. Dr. Shawn Bishop.

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