Elizabeth Shea, Ph.D.

Director of Collections and Curator of Mollusks
302-658-9111, ext. 319

Dr. Shea joined the Collections and Research division as Curator of Mollusks in 2006 and was promoted to Director of Collections in 2022. She is interested in all aspects of cephalopod biology, especially their ecology, taxonomy and systematics. As a graduate student, she studied the early life history of oceanic squids. Since her post-doc, she has shifted focus to understanding the cephalopod biodiversity of deep sea canyons and seamounts. She has worked with Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography’s Ecosystems Research Division to explore and collect specimens from the Gully Marine Protected Area, and is currently participating in NOAA’s Deep Sea Coral Expeditions.

In late August 2016, Dr. Shea took part in an expedition studying the Carolina Canyons off the coast of North Carolina through NOAA. She was featured in their “Before they were scientists” series and wrote “Cephalopods: Photobombing Deep-sea Corals” for the expedition’s website.

For Science Friday’s Cephalopod week in 2017, Dr. Shea was interviewed for the short film, The Giant Squid’s Biggest Mystery.


  • National Research Council Post-Doc, NOAA’s National Systematics Lab, Washington D.C.
  • Ph.D. Bryn Mawr College 2004.
  • M.A. Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary 1995.
  • B.S. College of William and Mary, 1989.

Recent Publications:


Vidal EAG and Shea EK (2023) Cephalopod ontogeny and life cycle patterns. Frontiers in Marine Science. 10:1162735. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2023.1162735


Flemming A, Phillips M, Shea EK, Bolton  A, Lincoln C, Green K, Mast A, Cubeta MA. 2020. Using Digital Natural History Collections in K-12 STEM Education. Journal of Museum Education, 45:4, 450-461, DOI: 10.1080/10598650.2020.1833296

Shea EK, Stadler J and Lindgren A.  Brachioteuthis beanii in the Northwest Atlantic. Bulletin of Marine Science 96(2): 309-322.  https://doi.org/10.5343/bms.2019.0073

Krumm JL, Shea EK, Woods JL. Integrating Digitized Natural History Collections into Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences. Integrative and Comparative Biology 2020 Mar 1 (Vol. 60, pp. E360-E360).


Staudinger MD, Dimkovikj VH, France CAM, Jorgensen E, Judkins H, Lindgren A, Shea EK and M Vecchione. 2019. Trophic ecology of the deep-sea cephalopod assemblage near Bear Seamount in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 629:67-86. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps13121

Golikov, A.V., Ceia, F.R., Sabirov, R.M. Ablett JD, Gleadall IG, Gudmundsson G, Hoving HJ, Judkins H, Palsson J, Reid AL, Rosas-Luis R, Shea EK, Schwarz R and Xavier JC. The first global deep-sea stable isotope assessment reveals the unique trophic ecology of Vampire Squid Vampyroteuthis infernalis (Cephalopoda). Sci Rep 9, 19099 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-55719-1


Krumm JL, Perkowski EA, Mecouch KE, Woods JL, Shea EK, Goraya I, and Tran T. 2018.  Teaching and mentoring across boundaries: a collaboration between 10 students, 3 mentors, 2 institutions, and 1 global data set.  Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring Special Issue: Mentoring Undergraduate Research in Global Contexts. 7.1:1-10.

Shea, E.K., Sierwald, P., Bieler, R., Rosenberg, G.  Priorities and Opportunities for Digitizing Mollusk CollectionsAmerican Malacological Bulletin 36(2),  DOI: 10.4003/006.036.0201

Sierwald, P, Bieler, R., Shea, E.K. and Rosenberg, G.  Mobilizing Mollusks: Status Update on Mollusk Collections in the U.S.A. and Canada.  American Malacological Bulletin 36(2) . DOI: 10.4003/006.036.0202

Shea, E.K. et al. Dumbo octopod hatchling provides insight into early cirrate life cycle. Current Biology,  DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.01.032


Shea, E.K., Judkins, H., Staudinger, M.D. et al. Cephalopod biodiversity in the vicinity of Bear Seamount, western North Atlantic based on exploratory trawling from 2000 to 2014.  Marine Biodiversity. 47: 699.  DOI: 10.1007/s12526-017-0633-3


Roper, C.F.E. et al. A compilation of recent records of the Giant Squid, Architeuthis dux Steenstrup, 1857 (Cephalopoda) from the Western  North Atlantic Ocean, Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico with a worldwide nomenclatural review.  American Malacological Bulletin. 33(1): 78 – 88.

Xavier, J.C.C et al. Future problems in cephalopod research. Journal of Marine Biological Society of the UK.


Kenchinton, T.J.,et al. Field Methods of the 2008, 2009, and 2010 Surveys of Meso-and Bathypelagic Micronekton in The Gully. Canadian Technical Report of  Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 3076: iv + 73p.


Roper, C.F.E.and E.K. Shea. Unanswered questions about the giant squid, Architeuthis illustrate our incomplete knowledge of coleoid cephalopods. American Malacological Bulletin. 31(1):109-122.


Kelly, N.E., E.K. Shea, A. Metaxas, R.L. Haedrich, P.J. Auster. Biodiversity of the deep-sea continential margin bordering the Gulf of Maine (NW Atlantic): Relationships among physiographic sub-regions and to shelf systems. PLos ONE5(11):e13832. doi10.1371/journal.pone.0013832

Shea, E.K. and M. Vecchione. Ontogenic changes in diel vertical migration patterns compared with known allometric changes in three mesopelagic squid species suggest an expanded definition of paralarva. ICES Journal of Marine Science 67(7):1436-1443.