“The joy of discovery is certainly the liveliest that the mind of man can ever feel. ” — Claude Bernard

John Shea

Assistant Professor
Ecological and Behavioral Parasitology

M.Div. – Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, 2014
M.A. – Loyola University of Chicago, Chicago, 2008
Ph.D. – The Ohio State University, Columbus, 2003
B.S. – John Carroll University, 1993

Department of Biology
Creighton University
2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178-0103
Office: Hixson-Lied 423

Courses Offered

Research Interests

My research interests lie in two areas of Parasitology. First, I am interested in parasite-altered behavior of hosts. Parasites that require multiple hosts often employ strategies to increase the probability of transmission to their next host, including altering host behavior. I conduct lab experiments to study such questions using infected invertebrates. I also ask how chemicals such as fertilizers and heavy metals alter the normal behavior and growth of invertebrates.

Second, I am interested in using parasites as indicators of ecosystem health. Some parasites such as trematodes have complicated life cycles involving multiple hosts. Thus, the presence of the parasite in an ecosystem suggests the presence of its hosts. Since larval trematodes are easily and quickly collected from their snail intermediate hosts this research holds promise for a cheap and accurate way to assess ecosystems.

As a Jesuit priest, I'm interested in the intersection of faith and science. I'm particularly interested in the religious response to environmental issues. Some of my musings have been published on The Jesuit Post.

In the summer, I plan to take students to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to do biological field research.

Scholarly Works


Shea, J.F. 2014. “A Tribute To a Worm” The Jesuit Post: #Faith #God #Frontiers#Culture #Mystery #Love. ed. Patrick Gilger. Orbis Press.

Shea, J.F., Kersten, G. J., Puccia, C. M., Stanton, A. T., Stiso, S. N., Helgeson, E. S., Back, E. J. 2012. The use of parasites as indicators of ecosystem health as compared to insects in freshwater lakes of the Inland Northwest. Ecological Indicators. 13: 184-188.

Shea, J.F. 2010. Do male and female beetles (Tenebrio molitor) respond differently to rat feces containing eggs from the tapeworm, Hymenolepis diminuta? Natural Science. 2: 855-859. doi:10.4236/ns.2010.28107.

Shea, J.F. 2007. Lack of preference for infective faeces in Hymenolepis diminuta-infected beetles (Tenebrio molitor). Journal of Helminthology. 81: 293–99.

Shea, J.F. 2005. Sex differences in frass production and weight change in Tenebrio molitor (Coleoptera) infected with cysticercoids of the tapeworm Hymenolepis diminuta (Cestoda). Journal of Insect Science. 5:31. [PDF].

Shea, J.F. 2005. The effect of Hymenolepis diminuta (Cestoda) cysticercoids on the weight change, frass production, and food intake of the intermediate host, Tenebrio molitor (Coleoptera). Parasitology Research. 98(1): 1-4.

Shea, J.F. 2005. A survey of the Coleoptera associated with carrion at sites with varying disturbances in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Ohio Journal of Science. 105(2): 17-20.

Conroy, J.D., Edwards, W.J., Pontius, R.A., Kane, D.D., Zhang, H., Shea, J.F., Richey, J.N. and Culver, D.A. 2005. Soluble nitrogen and phosphorus excretion of exotic freshwater mussels (Dreissena spp.): potential impacts for nutrient remineralisation in western Lake Erie. Freshwater Biology. 50: 1146-62.


Shea, J.F. 2013. Diversity and Ends: Finding Parallels in the Mutuality and Acceptance Models with Evolutionary Biology. Engaging Particularities. Boston College. Boston, MA.

Shea, J.F. 2012. Assessing the use of larval trematodes as indicators of ecosystem health in lakes of the Inland Northwest. Northern California Parasitologists Conference. San Francisco State University. Tiburon, CA.

Koberstein, S., Shea, J.F. 2011. Agricultural impact on selected organs of Lymnaea stagnalis wasatchensis. West Coast Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Conference. Pacific Lutheran University. Tacoma, WA. [winner of Best Student Oral Presentation]

Snider, C., Shea, J.F. 2011. Field study of heavy metal contaminants in the hepatopancreas of Lymnaea stagnalis wasatchensis snails. SIRC. Whitworth University. Spokane, WA.

Rowe, B., Satterfield, B., Shea, J.F. 2010. The Impact of Varying Concentrations of Zinc Nitrate on the Growth Rate of Snails (Physa). SIRC. Gonzaga University. Spokane, WA.

Kersten, G. J., Stiso, S. N., Shea, J.F. 2009. Differences in Seasonal Diversity Index Variation Between Snails and Insects. NW HHMI Network Undergraduate Research Symposium. University of Washington. Seattle, WA.

Stanton, A. T., Puccia, C. M., Shea, J.F.. 2009. Snails as indicators of biodiversity in selected lakes in the Inland Northwest. Murdock Conference. Gonzaga University. Spokane, WA.

Shea, J.F., Kersten, G. J., Puccia, C. M., Stanton, A. T., Stiso, S. N., Helgeson, E. S., Back, E. J. 2009. The use of parasites as indicators of biodiversity in selected lakes of the Inland Northwest. National Areas Conference. Vancouver, WA.

Shea, J.F. 2007. Using helminth infections in Peruvian wetlands as an indicator of ecosystem health. APHIA Seminar. Universidad Ricardo Palma. Lima, Peru.

Shea, J.F. 2007. Calculative Thinking, the Conservation Movement, and Catholicism. Jesuit Philosophy Conference. Loyola University of Chicago. Chicago, IL.

Shea, J.F. 2007. Reconciling Evolutionary Ethics with an Objective and Universal Ethical System. Pragmatism & Evolutionary Biology. Southern Illinois University. Carbondale, IL.

Shea, J.F. 2005. To eat or not to eat: Beetles, Tapeworms and the Risk of Infection. Biology Department Seminar. Loyola University of Chicago. Chicago, IL.

Shea, J.F. 2004. Gender in factors influencing the infection of the beetle, Tenebrio molitor, with the tapeworm, Hymenolepis diminuta. Biology Department Seminar. Santa Clara University. Santa Clara, CA.