Faculty Detail


Dr. Jeff Schell


Associate Professor, Oceanography

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Jeff joined Sea Education Association (SEA) as Chief Scientist and member of the oceanography faculty in 2003. Jeff received his B.A. in biology from the College of the Holy Cross in 1991, his M.S. in marine environmental science from State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1996 and his Ph.D. in zoology with an emphasis on aquatic ecology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2003. Jeff’s research focused on fundamental ecological questions concerning the role of environmental variables, disturbance and behavioral adaptations on the distribution, diversity and composition of animal communities. Jeff has pursued these questions in a variety of habitats. As an undergraduate Jeff studied mate selection and distribution patterns of salamanders in small ponds. His masters research focused on the adaptive significance of larval crab dispersal patterns and migratory behavior in Atlantic and Gulf coast estuaries. Jeff’s doctoral research examined the influence of surrounding land use on the diversity and composition of zooplankton communities in lakes, ponds and wetlands. Jeff continues to pursue these ecological research interests at SEA in the coastal habitats of Cape Cod.

Jeff’s teaching experience is as varied as his research interests. Throughout his graduate career he consistently turned down research grant offers in favor of teaching assistantships and fellowships. Jeff has worked with students ranging in age from kindergarten to elder hostel participants and in diverse situations ranging from field-based and laboratory settings, to the traditional classroom. Jeff even spent two years of his graduate career coaching Division II soccer at Stony Brook. As a doctoral student Jeff was a National Science Foundation Teaching Fellow where he worked with middle-school teachers to develop and implement inquiry-based science curriculum. Perhaps most relevant to SEA was Jeff’s tenure as a Science Watch Officer for SEA from 1994-1998. In that time Jeff sailed on 13 sea semesters (W134, C136, W140, C141, C142, C144, C145, C146, W147, W149, C151, C153 and W155) and several shorter summer programs. As Chief Scientist Jeff has now taught 3 sea semesters (C183, C190 and S192). Based on his varied and extensive experience working with students Jeff has developed a unique teaching philosophy.

“I believe the primary goal of a teacher is to empower students to become independent thinkers and learners. A successful teacher is one that has worked to become obsolete and unnecessary. Put more eloquently:

A teacher is best when students barely know they exist,

Not so good when students obey and acclaim them

Worse when they are despised.

Fail to honor your students,

They will fail to honor you.

But of a good teacher, who talks little

When their work is done, their aim fulfilled,

The students will say, “We did this ourselves”.

Adapted from Lao-Tzu

I help guide students to this level of educational freedom by emphasizing concepts instead of an over-abundance of content, context in place of memorization and critical thinking and problem-solving skills rather than routine.


Schell J. M. and Dodson S. I. (submitted 2003). Determination of land use effects using single- and multi-species bioassays. Journal of Plankton Research, xx: x-x.

Schell J. M. and Dodson, S. I. (submitted 2003). Zooplankton community composition and species richness in relation to land use and environmental variables. Freshwater Biology, xx: x-x.

Schell J.M., Santos C., Hunker B., Michelson A., Kloehn S., Lillie R. and Dodson, S., 2001. Classification of ponds and wetlands in Wisconsin using zooplankton species composition and associations. Hydrobiologia, 445: 37-50.

Schell J.M. 1996. Variation in vertical migration by crab larvae in different tidal regimes. Masters Thesis, State University New York at Stony Brook, p 120.


North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) 2001 – A Lake Odyssey: Bridging the gap between science, policy and practice

Title: The role of zooplankton as water quality indicators and in the determination of important land use effects on aquatic communities.

American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) 2000 - Research Across Boundaries. Copenhagen, Denmark

Title: Zooplankton assemblages in small ponds: the role of land use on local processes.

12 th Biennial Estuarine Research Federation (ERF) 1993

Title: Variation in larval transport mechanisms between diurnal and semidiurnal tidal regimes.


Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) 2003

Poster Title:Distribution of euthecosomatous pteropods in Caribbean water masses.

Ecological Society of America (ESA) 2002 – Education: K-12

Poster Title: University partnerships for ecological restoration: enhancing graduate student professional development and k-12 science education

American Water Research Association (AWRA) 2000 – Water Resources – Challenges for the New Century

Poster Title: Zooplankton species richness and composition in relation to land use and water chemistry in small ponds.