“To find yourself, think for yourself.” — Socrates

Dr. John F. Sheehan Scholarship

Dr. John F. Sheehan, a distinguished member of the Creighton Faculty from 1930 to 1989, served as Chairman of the Department of Biology from the early 1940’s through the early 1950’s. As chair he was active in student activities, including the Pasteur Club, the forerunner to the present Biology Club.  During his tenure in the department, Dr. Sheehan taught courses in microtechnique, comparative anatomy and histology. In 1964, he joined the Department of Pathology in the School of Medicine. Students often commented on his subtle humor and fairness. Although deaf since the age of 15, Dr. Sheehan effectively and affectionately communicated with students, faculty and friends.  He was known as a gentleman and a gentle man. In the School of Medicine, he specialized in cytology and was an active faculty member until his retirement. He remained active as a researcher and consultant, staying close to his many Creighton friends until his death at the age of 94.

Sheehan scholarships are one-time awards to outstanding juniors majoring in biology. Each award is applied directly to the recipient's tuition in their senior year.  Awards are typically in the $2,000-$4,500 range.


Applicants for the Sheehan scholarship must be junior (i.e., third year) biology majors with both an overall and a science GPA of 3.75 or higher. Each recipient will be selected primarily on the basis of academic standing and an essay on a bioethical issue.  Other factors, including financial need and/or engagement in community service and academically-related activities may be included in the selection process.

Application for 2014

Please use the application form (Sheehan_Application_2014.doc) if possible. Otherwise, please provide the information shown below. Two copies of the complete application should be submitted.

Part I - Academic Information


  • Name
  • Academic and career goals (No more than four sentences)
  • Service and academically-related activities
  • Biology and support courses courses taken at Creighton. Include only Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics courses. For each, provide course number, course name and grade received.
  • Overall GPA (Through last semester - do not include mideterm grades)
  • GPA for Biology and support courses
  • An electronic copy of your transcript(s), if available.

In addition, you will need to submit an official copy of your transcript(s), and a second physical copy if an electronic version was not submitted.

Part II - Essay

Respond to the following bioethical issue in an essay of no more than 750 words.  Do not include your name on the essay itself, but do attach it to the rest of the application.

For advocates, development of biotechnologies such as genetic engineering is a social responsibility that is likely to save and/or improve human life, improve the quality and abundance of food, improve and develop new sources of energy, and reduce hazardous environmental waste production. For opponents, development of biotechnologies such as genetic engineering risks reducing biodiversity, altering the ecosystem in unknown ways, increasing corporate control of agriculture, jeopardizing organic agriculture, altering the quality of food in unknown ways, producing new and unknown substances in food that may increase allergy and illness in humans, and failing to reduce food costs or alleviate distribution issues globally.

An example of a genetically modified organism waiting approval by the FDA is AquaAdvantage salmon. AquaAdvantage salmon express growth hormone in both cold and warm water, increasing their rate of growth and making them a continual source of food, potentially relieving wild fish populations from overfishing and reducing the cost and increasing supplies globally. Enviropig™ is another genetically engineered animal with potential environmental benefits. Researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada developed these pigs to digest phosphorus in plant-based feed more efficiently and excrete less phosphorus in their waste in order to reduce feed costs and water contamination. Further, Ventria has genetically modified Optiferrin™ rice to be higher in iron for potenitial use in biomedical applications and distrubution in communities with nutrient poor food sources.

In your essay, consider whether genetically engineered organisms such as AquaAdvantage, Enviropig, and Optiferrin™ should be more tightly or more loosely regulated. How might one determine criteria for use and whether the potential advantages outweigh the risks of genetic engineering? While you may reference AquaAdvantage salmon, Enviropig™, Optiferrin™ in your essay you should consider additional examples from current literature to support your position (approximately six references are expected). Your essay should be written for a non-expert but educated, scientific reader.

NOTE: Scientific credibility of cited sources will be considered when essays are evaluated.

Please submit your completed application by 5:00 pm, March 27, 2015. Submission may be electronic, to Dr. Shibata at AnnemarieShibata@creighton.edu, or physical, to Dr. Shibata or Peggy Smith in the Biology Office. For all applications, official transcripts can be delivered to Dr. Shibata or Peggy Smith.

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