Shannon studied Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Brown University where she investigated the use of mesenchymal stem cell-derived extracellular vesicles to treat liver damage from acetaminophen overdose in mice. She spent a year after graduating still in Providence, RI, working on the influence of circadian rhythm on the properties of extracellular vesicles. After coming to Boston, Shannon worked in the Neurobiology Department of Harvard Medical School with a lab doing high throughput drug screening for compounds to improve learning and memory. In addition, for a year she was a part-time research technician at the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms working on directed evolution of bacteria and algae. Shannon completed her PhD in the Synthetic Neurobiology group at MIT, inventing tools to illuminate the dynamic relationship between signals in complex networks within cells, such as those important for the function of the immune system and the nervous system. Towards the end of her PhD, she envisioned a revolutionary new way to teach students how to acquire wisdom through overcoming failure.