Pat Shea

Pat Shea

  • Contact Information
  • My Story
  • Publications & Presentations
  • Background
  • Interests
  • Grants
  • Advising
  • Courses Taught
  • Outreach

Title Xenobiotics/Environmental Chemist
Address 102C Kiesselbach Crop Research Laboratory
1870 North 37th Street
Lincoln NE
Phone 402-472-1533
FAX 402-472-7904
Vitae Download file

I'm Pat Shea, professor of xenobiotic chemistry and toxicology at the UNL School of Natural Resources (SNR). I hold courtesy appointments in the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, and the Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health (EAOH) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. My interests include protection and management of natural resources and ecosystems, ecological and environmental toxicology, chemicals in agricultural production systems, remediation and restoration of contaminated environments, and protection of public health.

Patrick Shea
Dr. Pat Shea visits a soil remediation project in Minnesota.

What are xenobiotics? Xenobiotics are biologically foreign substances that did not exist in nature before being synthesized by humans. These substances often become environmental contaminants. Our research encompasses adsorption-desorption, transformation, transport, bioavailability and toxicology of herbicides and other pesticides, munitions, pharmaceuticals, solvents and petroleum products, and heavy metals in water and soil.

We've also conducted research in the remediation of contaminated water and soil, including abiotic and biotic treatment processes. In addition, we've been involved in the development of process-based models, to assess landscape vulnerability to agrichemical leaching and runoff. Much of my research is interdisciplinary and involves collaborations with other faculty members.

I've taught, team-taught and assisted in courses concerning the fate and impacts of xenobiotics in soil, water, and biota; a graduate seminar in environmental health, occupational health and toxicology; and a graduate writing seminar. I've advised or co-advised master's and doctoral students with majors in natural resource sciences, agronomy and toxicology; supervised postdoctoral associates; and hosted visiting scientists. I hold a partial extension appointment and contribute to outreach education programs.

This diagram shows ways that pesticides move through soil  and water.
This diagram shows ways that pesticides move through soil and water. Click on image to enlarge.

I've been at UNL since completing a Ph.D. in 1981 at North Carolina State University, with a focus on agricultural and environmental chemistry in soil-water-plant systems. I also have a master's in plant science (agricultural management systems) from the University of Connecticut and a bachelor's in biology (general and premedical) from Fordham University in New York City.

In addition to my academic appointments, I'm a member of the intercampus Center for Environmental Health and Toxicology (CEHT), and an affiliate of the Nebraska Water Center, Center for Biotechnology, and the Environmental Engineering Program. I previously served as associate director and research coordinator for SNR, vice chair of the EAOH at UNMC, interim co-director of the CEHT, and have served multiple terms as senator and secretary of the UNL Faculty Senate.

Pesticide diagram
The map, developed as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture funded project, shows landscape vulnerability to atrazine loss in runoff water for Saunders County, NE. The most vulnerable areas are steep hill slopes on the south side of the current Platte river channel, and on the western edge of the county. Least vulnerable are the relatively flat playas and depressions of the Todd Valley.

Selected Publications

Shepherd, M. A., Labay, A., Shea, P., Rautianen, R., Achutan, C. 2016. Operational, water quality and temporal factors affecting impingement of fish and shellfish at a Texas coastal power plant. Global Ecology and Conservation. 5:48-57. Online
Shim, J., Kim, J.W., Shea, P., Oh, B.-T. 2015. IAA production by Bacillus sp. JH 2-2 promotes Indian mustard growth in the presence of hexavalent chromium. Journal of Basic Microbiology. 55:652-658. Online
Boparai, H.K., P.J. Shea, S.D. Comfort, and T.A. Machacek. 2008. Sequencing zerovalent iron treatment with carbon amendments to remediate agrichemical-contaminated soil. Water, Air and Soil Pollution.193:189-196. Online
Boparai, H.K., S.D. Comfort, P.J. Shea, and J.E. Szecsody. 2008. Remediating explosive-contaminated groundwater by in situ redox manipulation (ISRM) of aquifer sediments. Chemosphere 71:933-941. Online
Onanong, S. S.D. Comfort, P.D. Burrow, and P.J. Shea. 2007. Using gas-phase molecular descriptors to predict dechlorination rates of chloroalkanes by zerovalent iron. Environ. Sci. Technol.41:1200-1205. Online
Boparai, H.K., P.J. Shea, S.D. Comfort, and D.D. Snow. 2006. Dechlorinating chloroacetanilide herbicides by dithionite-treated aquifer sediment and surface soil. Environ. Sci. Technol. 40:3043-3049. Online
Onanong, S., P.D. Burrow, S.D. Comfort, and P.J. Shea. 2006. Electron capture detector response and dissociative electron attachment cross sections in chloroalkanes and chloroalkenes. J. Phys. Chem. A 110:4363-4368. Online
Park, J., S.D. Comfort, P.J. Shea, and J.S. Kim. 2005. Increasing Fe0-mediated HMX destruction in highly contaminated soil with didecyldimethylammonium bromide surfactant. Environ. Sci. Technol. 39:9683-9688. Online
Comfort, S.D., P.J. Shea, T.A. Machacek, and T. Satapanajaru. 2003. Pilot-scale treatment of RDX-contaminated soil with zerovalent iron. Journal of Environmental Quality. 32(5):1717-25. Online

Educational Background

  • BS - Fordham University, Biology (1975)
  • MS - University of Connecticut, Plant Science (1979)
  • PhD - North Carolina State University, Agricultural and environmental chemistry in soil-water-plant systems (1981)

SNR Mission Area(s)

  • Environmental Science

Affiliations (index)

Areas of Interest

  • Environmental chemistry and toxicology
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Xenobiotics
  • Agrichemicals
  • Environmental management
  • Environmental remediation and restoration
  • Soil Quality
  • Water Quality
  • Soils
  • Lawns and Landscape
  • Agriculture and Livestock
  • Drinking Water
  • Land Use / Land Cover

Currently this page only displays grants that were awarded on 1/1/2009 to the present. If a grant was awarded prior to 1/1/2009 and is still active, it will not be displayed on this page.

There no Grants found for this selection.

Graduate Program(s)

Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy in Natural Resource Sciences

Courses Taught
Course Number Course Title Fall Even Years Fall Odd Years Spring Even Years Spring Odd Years Summer Session Cross Listing
GEOG 484 Water Resources Seminar X X AGRO/GEOG/GEOL/NRES/WATS 484/884
GEOG 884 Water Resources Seminar X X AGRO/GEOG/GEOL/NRES/WATS 484/884
NRES 484 Water Resources Seminar X X AGRO/GEOG/GEOL/NRES/WATS 484/884
NRES 884 Water Resources Seminar X X AGRO/GEOG/GEOL/NRES/WATS 484/884
NRES 920 Xenobiotics in the Environment AGRO/ENTO/HORT/NRES/TOXI 920
WATS 484 Water Resources Seminar X X AGRO/GEOG/GEOL/NRES/WATS 484/884