David Shull

Professor · he/him/his


David Shull received degrees in oceanography from the University of Washington (B.S.) and the University of Connecticut (M.S.), and a degree in environmental science from the University of Massachusetts Boston (Ph.D., 2000).  Afterward, he was a research associate at the University of Maine's Darling Marine Center and an assistant professor of biology at Gordon College before coming to Western in 2004.  Dr. Shull studies invertebrate communities in estuaries and continental shelf sediments.  He is particularly interested in the roles that benthic organisms play in the function of coastal ecosystems.  He has studied the effects of benthic organisms on the fate of contaminants in coastal waters, the role of deposit feeders in the initiation of harmful algal blooms (red tide), and the effects of tube-building organisms on concentrations of methyl mercury in sediments.  Currently he is studying the exchange of nutrients and dissolved oxygen between sediments and overlying water in the Salish Sea. 

Graduate student research opportunity

I will be accepting a graduate student starting in Fall 2024 to study nitrogen cycling in marine sediments. We will be developing sensors to determine the 2-dimensional distributions of nitrate, nitrite and ammonium in marine sediments to assess how these distributions influence rates of sedimentary denitrification. I am looking for a graduate student who is motivated to study marine chemistry and is comfortable with calculus and has some basic programming skills.


PhD Environmental Science, University of Massachusetts-Boston; MS Oceanography, University of Connecticut; BS Oceanography, University of Washington

Research Interests

Although the vast majority of the earth's solid surface is covered in marine mud and benthic organisms thus inhabit the largest habitat on the earth's solid surface, there is much to be learned about the ecological and functional roles these bottom dwellers play in the ocean. An important theme in my research is "bioturbation", the effects of benthic organism feeding, burrowing, and burrow ventilation on marine sediment properties. I have studied benthic communities in Puget Sound, Boston Harbor, the North Atlantic, and the Bering Sea. My current research focus is nitrogen cycling in the Salish Sea.


Some recent publications from my lab:

Santana, E. and D.H. Shull. 2023. Sedimentary biogeochemistry of the Salish Sea: Springtime fluxes of dissolved oxygen, nutrients, inorganic carbon, and alkalinity. Estuaries and Coasts, 46, 1208-1222.

Zhao, M., L. Tarhan, D. H. Shull, X. Wang, D. Asael, N. Planavsky. 2022. Covariation between molybdenum and uranium isotopes in reducing marine sediments. Chemical Geology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemgeo.2022.120921

Shull, D.H. 2021. Sources of corrosive bottom water to Bellingham Bay, Washington State. Estuaries and Coasts, 44, 1250-1261.

Shull, D.H. 2019. Bioturbation. In, Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences, 3rd Ed. Elsevier.

Simpson, A. G., Tripp, L., Shull, D. H., & Yang, S. 2018. Effects of Zostera marina rhizosphere and leaf detritus on the concentration and distribution of pore-water sulfide in marine sediments. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 209, 160–168.

Apell, J. D.H. Shull, A.M. Hoyt, and P.M. Gschwend. 2018. Investigating the effect of bioirrigation on in situ porewater concentrations and fluxes of polychlorinated biphenyls using passive samplers. Env. Sci. Technol. 52, 4565-4573.

Teaching Schedule

Fall: ESCI 321 T/R 10:00-11:50, ESCI 322 T 1:00-4:50 (at Shannon Point Marine Center)

Winter: ESCI 204 M,T,W,R 12:00-12:50, ESCI 432 M/W 4:00 – 5:50

Spring: ESCI 426 8:00 – 4:50 (at Shannon Point Marine Center)