Shawn currently a faculty member at The Ohio State University where he teaches aviation safety,human factors,
accident investigation and complex aircraft operation for the Department of Aviation. Other
teaching responsibilities have included teaching cognitive engineering for the Industrial Systems
Engineering Department and clinical toxicology for the College of Pharmacy. Shawn also functions as
an independent contractor/Research Engineer for San Jose State University at NASA Ames in addition
to work performed in his own company, Human Factors Investigation and Education. Prior to coming to
OSU, he flew as a Captain with Comair Airlines (Delta Connection) for 10 years flying the Canadair
CL-65 regional jetliner. He has over 4,000 hours of flight time of which
3,000 is turbojet and has a type rating in the CRJ in addition to both ATP multi and commercial
single engine. He is also a CFI, CFII and MEI and has given approximately 800 hours of flight
Shawn was extensively involved with both local and national safety work for the Air Line Pilots
Association International (ALPA) and held many national and local positions including Director of
Human Factors, local safety committee Vice-Chair, and both Assistant Chief and Chief Accident
Investigator for ALPA at Comair. He has also served on or co-chaired several national aviation
working groups with the FAA. With ALPA, he has worked numerous accident investigations with the
NTSB including the Comair 5191 Lexington, KY accident where he was ALPA’s principle human factors
investigator. He was recently featured in the film documentary “Sole Survivor” to be released in
the fall 2012.
Shawn graduated from the Ohio State University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and
before he began his career in aviation he worked as a licensed pharmacist for 10 years at the
Central Ohio Poison Control Center in Columbus, specializing in the field of toxicology. He has
been Board certified as a Specialist in Poison Information (CSPI) since 1991 and still works
actively in the discipline of toxicology. During this time, he was also a paramedic and firefighter
with Jackson Township Fire Department in Grove City, Ohio. Since 1990, he has published and
presented to regional, national and international audiences in both the fields of toxicology and
He has received specific human factors training at the University of Southern California in Los
Angeles, the National Transportation Safety Board Training Center in Washington D.C. and with Dr.
Sidney Dekker at Lund University in Lund, Sweden. In May of 2006 he earned a Masters Degree with
distinction in Aeronautical Science/Human Factors from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. His
graduate research project, titled “Does postmortem toxicological drug analyses accurately identify
a medication’s pharmacological influence at the time of accident?” combined his toxicology
expertise and interest as an accident investigator.
His interest and focus includes the role that safety culture, human performance and human error
play in understanding accident causation. He is especially interested in how these concepts when
viewed through the lens of complexity theory can affect our construction of causation. He is
currently pursuing PhD in cognitive engineering at OSU under the supervision of Dr. David Woods.
Shawn is a member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI), the Association
for Aviation Psychology (APA) and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES). He currently
lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife Maria, who is an OSU Professor at the College of
Pharmacy, and their two children.