Sandra “Sandy” Shumway was born in Taunton, Massachusetts and was destined to be a life-long Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots fan. Sandy attended Mulcahey Grammar School and Taunton High School where she graduated as Salutatorian. At an early age, Sandy was also destined to become a scientist. She spent summers in Portsmouth, Rhode Island investigating the marine environment and began her science career in the 5th grade by entering her first science fair. During her high school years, she won first place at the Massachusetts State Science Fair at MIT during her junior year and was named a Ford Future Scientist of America and to the NASA Youth Science Congress during her senior year.

Sandy received her Bachelor of Science degree in in Marine Science and Biology in 1974 (Summa Cum Laude) from the Southampton College of Long Island University. As a Graduate student at the University College of North Wales, she studied under D.J. Crisp and received her Ph.D. in 1976. She did her postgraduate studies at the Marine Science Laboratories in North Wales in 1977; the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand (1978-1979); and the Department of Ecology and Evolution, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York (1979-1982).

She was a Marshall Scholar and has received numerous awards including: American Men and Women of Science; Long Island University Trustees Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement; Education Service Award, Science Council of New York City; David Newton Award for Excellence in Teaching, Long Island University; Distinguished Lecturer, University of Maryland ; William Evans Visiting Professor, University of Otago, NZ. Long Island University Trustees Award for Scholarly Achievement ; Aldo Leopold Fellow (; National Shellfisheries Association Honored Life Member (2001); David H. Wallace Award for Contributions to Industry National Shellfisheries Association. and is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, Fellow of the World Aquaculture Society, Fellow of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineers, and an AAAS Fellow.

Life and career

Dr. Shumway’s research spans over 40 years in shellfish biology, filter-feeding, and the physiological ecology of marine invertebrates. After post-doctoral studies, Sandy spent 11 years as a research scientist with the State of Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) and as an adjunct scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. She then joined Bigelow full time before returning to her alma mater, Southampton College of Long Island University (LIU), where she served at Marine Science Program Coordinator and academic advisor for hundreds of students, and taught classes in Comparative Physiology, Marine Ecology, Oceans, Scientific Writing, and Current Topics in Marine Science from 1994 to 2001. Many of Sandy’s undergraduate mentees from LIU have gone on to become faculty at universities across the U.S. and to take positions at federal agencies such as NOAA. During her time at LIU, Sandy both shaped the existing marine science degree programs and founded and obtained New York State approval for the nation’s first Marine Vertebrate Biology degree. When Stony Brook University (SBU) took over the LIU marine science program in 2005, both the Marine Vertebrate Biology degree that she founded and the Marine Science degree that she shaped were transferred to SBU where they remain today. Sandy joined the faculty at the University of Connecticut Department of Marine Science in 2001 as a Research Professor where she has mentored multiple graduate students and continues today.

Shumway pioneered the study of impacts of harmful algae on shellfish and other invertebrates and introduced the use of flow cytometry as a means of determining particle selection in filter-feeding invertebrates. Her primary research focus has been on problems directly applicable to industry needs, e.g. distribution of toxins in individual shellfish tissues, detoxification rates, and timing and extent of toxicity between bivalve species with the goal of establishing species-specific closures. A new species of dinoflagellate, Pfiesteria shumwayae, discovered by Drs. JoAnn Burkholder and Howard Glasgow, was named in her honor.

She has authored ~180 publications, edited numerous books on major classes of bivalves, harmful algal blooms, aquaculture, and even co-edited a shellfish cookbook (Simply Shellfish). Sandy has served as Editor of the Journal of Shellfish Research for more than 30 years. She also served as Editor of the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology for 18 years, and is currently the Editor of Reviews in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture, and is the Reviews Editor for Marine Biology. She also serves on the editorial boards of several other journals.

Sandy’s greatest editorial achievement has been the conceiving and founding of the Elsevier journal, Harmful Algae for which she served as editor from 2001 – 2019. While considered a fringe topic at its outset, the journal rapidly gained international attention and prominence and has consistently maintained an Impact Factor ranking among the top ten of more than 100 marine and freshwater biology journals. Sandy chose Ted Smayda as her first co-editor and hand-picked an elite Editorial Board for the journal. Harmful Algae has served as the cornerstone publication for research on harmful algal blooms (HAB) and has continually produced Special Issues on key, central topics within the field of HAB, often producing papers with hundreds of citations.

Gus is Sandy’s helpful feline assistant.

Research strategy and mentoring

Dr. Shumway is a pioneering researcher of the physiological effects of harmful algal toxins on shellfish. Until 1985, it was accepted that “the toxic algae have no impact on the host organisms” and no studies demonstrated otherwise. A Google search today shows over 750,000 citations on the impacts of toxic algae on molluscs and other species, largely due to Sandy’s leadership. She is a strong advocate for the shellfishing industry and regularly attends working group sessions and meetings with fishermen as an invited advisor. In early 2000, she organized and co-chaired the National Shellfish Workshop, a forum sponsored by the Cooperative Research and Information Institute designed to develop a National Shellfish Plan. Sandy is very active in the National Shellfisheries Association and was the first woman to serve as President in its first 100-year history. In recent years she has taken a keen interest and leadership role in making scientifically credible communication a reality by working with user communities, policy makers, and the press. She currently serves as chair of the Technical Advisory Group for the Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

An enthusiastic and dedicated mentor, Sandy is an advocate for students and student opportunities. Aside from serving on numerous graduate student committees, she has mentored students both formally and informally throughout her career. In her activities with the National Shellfisheries Association she provides significant support, including running the annual auction at the NSA Conference, towards the NSA Student Endowment Fund which provides financial support to students for travel and lodging to present their science. Sandy also offers a graduate Career Development course at the University of Connecticut to prepare and advise graduate students for the variety of career paths that await them. Many of Sandy’s former undergraduate and graduate students from LIU, University of Connecticut and elsewhere have gone on to enjoy positions in academia, Government, and industry.

10 Key publications

Burkholder, J.M., S.E. Shumway, and P.M. Glibert (2018) Food web and ecosystem impacts of harmful algae. Chapter 7: pp 243-336 in: Shumway, S.E., J.M. Burkholder, and S.L. Morton (eds.) Harmful Algal Blooms: A Compendium Desk Reference. Wiley and Sons Ltd. 667p.

Bouwman, A.F., M. Pawłowski, C. Liu, A.H.W. Beusen, S.E. Shumway, P.M. Glibert, and C.C. Overbeek. (2011) Global hindcasts and future projections of coastal nitrogen and phosphorus loads due to shellfish and seaweed aquaculture. Reviews in Fisheries Science 19(4):331–357.

Shumway, S.E., J.M. Burkholder and J. Springer. (2006) Effects of the estuarine dinoflagellate Pfiesteria shumwayae (Dinophyceae) on survival and grazing activity of several shellfish species. Harmful Algae 5:442-458.

Ward, J.E., J.S. Levinton, S.E. Shumway and T.L. Cucci – 1997. Direct identification of the locus of particle selection in a bivalve mollusc. Nature 390: 131-132.

Shumway, S.E. (1995) Phycotoxin-related shellfish poisoning: bivalve molluscs are not the only vectors. Reviews in Fisheries Science 3:1-31.

Bricelj., V.M. and S.E. Shumway (1998). A review of paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins in bivalve molluscs: occurrence and transfer kinetics. Reviews in Fisheries Science 6: 315 – 383.

Shumway, S.E., H. van Egmond, J.W. Hurst, and L.L. Bean (1995). Management of shellfish resources. pp. 436 – 463. In: Hallegraeff, G.M., D.M. Anderson, and A.D. Cembella (eds.), Manual on Harmful Marine Microalgae. IOC Manuals and Guides no. 33. UNESCO.

Shumway, S.E. and A.D. Cembella. (1993) The impact of toxic algae on scallop culture and fisheries. Reviews in Fisheries Science. 1:121-150.

Shumway, S.E. (1990) A review of the effects of algal blooms on shellfish and aquaculture. J. World Aquaculture Society 21: 65 – 104.

Shumway, S.E. and T.L. Cucci (1987). The effects of the toxic dinoflagellate Protogonyaulax tamarensis on the feeding and behavior of bivalve molluscs. Aquatic Toxicology 10: 9-27.

Key Books

Shumway, S.E., Burkholder, J.M. Morton, S.L. (eds.) 2018. Harmful Algal Blooms: A Compendium Desk Reference. Wiley Science Publishers, 682p.

Shumway, S.E. and G.J. Parsons (eds.) 2016. Scallops: Biology, Ecology and Aquaculture and Fisheries. Elsevier. 3rd Edition. 1196pp.

Shumway, S.E., (eds.) 2012. Shellfish Aquaculture and the Environment. Wiley Science Publishers, 507pp.

Shumway, S.E. and G. Rodrick (eds.) 2009. Shellfish Quality and Safety. Woodhouse Publishers., Cambridge. 591pp.

Shumway, S.E. and P.A. Sandifer (eds.) 1991. An International Compendium of Scallop Biology and Culture. World Aquaculture Society. 357pp.


Prepared by Vera Trainer, Steve Morton, Chris Gobler, with a lot of help from Sandy’s friends.