Meghan M. Shea

Current Research

I study marine eDNA: the process of taking water samples, sequencing the bits of marine organism DNA they contain, and using that data to enable communities to understand marine biodiversity. While most researchers focus on the scientific elements of eDNA—how can we best collect, sequence, and interpret eDNA data—and I too aim to develop better tools for using eDNA to understand biodiversity changes, I am also interested in the human implications of this big-data approach to understanding marine ecosystems. How do scientists, policymakers, and the public think about eDNA results, and how can they be involved in the process? How does eDNA data complement or overshadow other forms of knowledge about the ocean? Does this detached tool—divorced for the visual methods typical in biodiversity monitoring—change how we understand, value, and aspire to protect marine environments?

My work, at the intersection of biological oceanography and science & technology studies, aims to combat the techno-optimism inherent to much eDNA research—if we build a better tool, we’ll increase ocean knowledge, and therefore conservation—by centering the human context that eDNA operates within. Thus, I want my work to be driven by the perspectives of people that might benefit from, or be affected by, the advancement of eDNA monitoring. And I want my research to demonstrate what community-based eDNA monitoring can look like: from using focus groups to inform eDNA projects to facilitating community science eDNA collection to making eDNA analysis more accessible.


Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • Meghan M. Shea, Jacob Kuppermann, Megan P. Rogers, Dustin Summer, Smith, Paul Edwards, Alexandria B. Boehm (2023) Systematic review of marine environmental DNA metabarcoding studies: toward best practices for data usability and accessibility, PeerJ, 11:e14993, DOI: 10.7717/peerj.14993
  • Meghan M. Shea, James Painter & Shannon Osaka (2022) Power, the Pacific Islands, and the Prestige Press: A Case Study of How Climate Reporting is Influenced by UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Summits, The International Journal of Press/Politics 27(2), 518-540. DOI: 10.1177/19401612211018067
  • Silje Kristiansen, James Painter & Meghan Shea (2020) Animal Agriculture and Climate Change in the US and UK Elite Media: Volume, Responsibilities, Causes and Solutions, Environmental Communication, DOI: 10.1080/17524032.2020.1805344
  • Meghan M. Shea, James Painter & Shannon Osaka (2020) Representations of Pacific Islands and climate change in US, UK, and Australian newspaper reporting. Climatic Change 16189–108. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-020-02674-w
  • Meghan M. Shea & Thomas F. Thornton (2019) Tracing Country Commitment to Indigenous Peoples in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Global Environmental Change 58, 1–8. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.101973
  • Claudia Comberti, Thomas F. Thornton, Michaela Korodimou, Meghan Shea & Kimaren Ole Riamit (2019) Adaptation and Resilience at the Margins: Addressing Indigenous Peoples’ Marginalization at International Climate Negotiations, Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 61:2, 14-30. DOI: 10.1080/00139157.2019.1564213
  • Alexandria B. Boehm, Dan Wang, Ayse Ercumen, Meghan Shea, Angela R. Harris, Orin C. Shanks, Catherine Kelty, Alvee Ahmed, Zahid Hayat Mahmud, Benjamin F. Arnold, Claire Chase, Craig Kullmann, John M. Colford, Stephen P. Luby, and Amy J. Pickering (2016) Environmental Science & Technology Letters 3:11, 393-398. DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.6b00382


  • Meghan M. Shea and Alexandria B. Boehm (2023) Environmental DNA (eDNA) Metabarcoding Differentiates between Micro-Habitats within the Rocky Intertidal, bioRxiv. DOI: 10.1101/2023.08.03.551543


Conference Presentations

  •  From Texts to New Technologies: An Interdisciplinary Study of the Utility, and Stakes, or Using Environmental DNA Tools for Intertidal Monitoring (Reclaiming the Commons: 2023 ASLE + AESS Joint Conference | Oral Presentation)
  • From Encounters to Environmental DNA: The Stakes of Changing Evidentiary Forms in Intertidal Research (2022 Society for the History of Technology Annual Meeting | Oral Presentation)
  • Working Across Disciplines to Advance the Use of Environmental DNA as a Tool for Marine Biodiversity Monitoring (2022 2nd National Workshop on Marine Environmental DNA | Poster Presentation)
  •  A Systematic Review of Marine Environmental DNA Metabarcoding Studies: Toward Best Practices for Data Usability and Accessibility (2022 Ocean Sciences Meeting | Virtual Oral Presentation)
  • Ocean Science and Vulnerability in the News: A Case Study of Reporting on Pacific Islands and Climate Change (2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting | Oral Presentation)
  • Use of a Land-Based, Dual-Parameter Analyzer for Tracking Ocean Acidification in Nearshore Coastal Habitats (2016 Fall AGU Meeting | Oral Presentation | Outstanding Student Presentation Award)
  • Ocean Acidification Observations from a West Coast Shellfish Hatchery (2016 NOAA Hollings Scholar Symposium | Oral Presentation | Undergraduate Presentation Award)
  • Coupled Biogeochemical and Hydrodynamic Measurements over a Palauan Seagrass Bed: Can Seagrass Mitigate Local Acidification Stress? (2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting | Poster Presentation | Co-Presented with PhD student Heidi Hirsh)