Jeffrey D. Shields


Email: [[jeff]]
Phone: (804) 684-7128
Office: Andrews Hall 426
Department: Aquatic Health Sciences
Interests: Parasitic and microbial diseases invertebrates and fishes.
Website: {{}}
Research: {{}}

  • B.S., Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
  • M.S., University of California, Berkeley
Research Interests

My expertise is in the etiology and epidemiology of parasitic and microbial diseases of commercially important fish and shellfish. Recently, I have been working on the epidemiology and pathology of microbial and protozoal infections in crustaceans, particularly blue crabs and American lobsters. I've also worked on the etiology of diseases in molluscs, aspects of fish pathogens, and the lack of toxicity in Pfiesteria. Visit my personal website for an up-to-date list of my publications. 

  • Epidemics of Hematodinium spp., an unusual group of parasitic dinoflagellates, have caused financial losses to the fishermen of the USA and Canada. Recently my group has developed a sentinel technique to study transmission dynamics in the field (Shields et al. 2017, Huchin-Mian et al. 2018. This has opened the door to a better understanding of the life cycle and ecology of this group of pathogens. I've published extensively on this group including documenting mortalities to crab fisheries, elucidating the hematology and host factors in the disease, examining the pathophysiology of infections, and establishing the parasite in culture for additional life cycle studies. 
  • I have an active interest in understanding how climate change alters the host-parasite relationship in crustaceans and their pathogens. I've published a review showing that as ocean water temperatures increase, so have epizootics of pathogens in important crustacean populations (Shields 2019). I'm interested to see if this is broadly applicable to planktonic crustaceans as well. This work has ties with my work on epizootic shell disease and other diseases in lobsters as well as infectious diseases in hosts infected by Hematodinium and other pathogens.
  • Lobster health issues have been emerging over the last twenty years as a result of environmental change and anthropogenic impacts. Recently I've been studying how epizootic shell disease affects American lobsters from Long Island and the Gulf of Maine (Barris et al. 2018; Groner et al. 2018; Reardon et al. 2018). My group as studied the dysbiotic microbiome of the disease, its proliferation, phenological shifts in the disease's ecology, and the first report of the disease in waters off Maine. My group has also discovered that 50% of the lobsters in Long Island Sound are blind and we've been trying to determine the etiology of this idiopathic blindness (e.g., Ochs et al. 2018, Ochs et al. 2020). This has involved developing a non-invasive means to assess animals for blindness as well as a study looking directly at the potential role of manganese in the syndrome. 
Current Projects
  • 2019-2020; National Sea Grant Program, Lobster Initiative, "Reproduction in an era of rapid environmental change: the effect of multiple stressors on reproductive success, embryogenesis, and emerging larvae of the American lobster." Principal Investigator - Emily Rivest, Co-PI - Jeffrey D. Shields
Selected Publications
  • Xuqing Chen, Ph.D.
Courses Taught / Teaching
  • MS 559: Parasitology
  • MS 568: Crustacean Health Issues
Faculty / Student Awards

Moses D. Nunnally Term Professor of Marine Science, appointed April 1, 2018

Editor, Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, 2015-present; Special editor, Diseases of Amphipods, 2018-2019.

Member, Board of Editors, Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 2008-present.

Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA) Fund Travel Award, 2018-2019, for work at the Sven Loven Centre for Marine Infrastructure, Kristineberg Marine Laboratory, Sweden, 10,000 SEK annually for travel, award includes bench fees, meals, and accommodations.

Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence, 2015, College of William & Mary, $10,000.

Guest editor, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B, 2015.

Outstanding Faculty Researcher Award, 2014, Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Certificate of Meritorious Service for Reviews, Society of Invertebrate Pathology, 2014

Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for research on lobsters, Hon. Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman, Rhode Island, 2010.

The Crustacean Society: Member, Awards Committee, 2009-2010; Past President, 2008-2009; President, 2006-2007; President Elect, 2004-2005; Secretary, 3 terms, 1999-2004. Fellowships Committee, 2006-2013.

Member, Community Advisory Council, BioOne, 2007-2010,

Member, Publishers Advisory Committee, BioOne, 2005-2007,

US Delegate, Working Group on the Biology and Life History of Crabs [WGCRAB], 1999-2011. International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES)

Professional Memberships
  • Member: American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Crustacean Society, and occasionally in other societies.
  • List administrator: CRUST-L, the Crustacea mailing list.
Collaborative / Interdisciplinary Efforts
  • Hematodinium infections in blue crabs: Kimberly Reece
  • Shell disease in American lobsters: Patrick Gillevet, Kathy Castro, and several others
  • Idiopathic blindness in American lobsters: Kathy Castro, Conor McManus, Tracy Pugh
  • Ocean acidification in lobsters: Emily Rivest