Ciaran A. S. Shaughnessy

Ciaran A. S. Shaughnessy

Ph.D. Candidate

B.Sc. Chemistry, The Illinois Institute of Technology, 2012
M.Sc. Biological Sciences, Depaul University, 2015

Advisor: Stephen D. McCormick

Research Interests

Much of my work can be summarized as environmental physiology. I study how animals are adapted to survive changes to their environment, such as from temperature, dissolved gasses (O2, CO2), or salinity, that can occur as a result of tidal, diurnal, and seasonal variation, or as a result of migration between two different environments. In my research, I have worked in the field and in a laboratory setting with aquatic vertebrates (fishes) and invertebrates (crustaceans) to study the organismal, cellular, and molecular mechanisms for thermal tolerance, CO2 tolerance, osmoregulation (ion and water balance), and chemoreception. One topic of environmental physiology where I have focused much of my research is on how fishes survive in vastly different salinities. Most fishes are iono- and osmo-regulators―they maintain a constant internal ion and water balance regardless whether they live in freshwater or seawater. The thin layers of cells in the gill and gut of fishes that form a barrier separating the fishes inside (blood) from its environment (water) are important epithelia across which fish can transport ions and water. Epithelia are critical junctions in the body which facilitate important physiological processes: gas exchange (human lung, fish gill), nutrient absorption (intestine), ion transport (human kidney, fish gill), as well as protection, lubrication, or secretion of hormones and fluids. In fishes, the gill epithelium is an important barrier the width of only a single cell which separates blood from the aquatic environment and is the primary site of many epithelial processes including gas exchange (O2 and CO2), ion transport (Na+ and Cl–), ammonia excretion, and acid-base balance. Much of my work has focused on characterizing the molecular mechanisms involved in Cl– secreting epithelial cells which are highly conserved epithelial ion transport pathways.


Barany, A., C. A. Shaughnessy, J. Fuentes , J. M. Mancera, S. D. McCormick. (2019) Osmoregulatory role of the gut in the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus). American Journal of Physiology. (in press)

Shaughnessy, C.A., S. D. McCormick. (2019) Functional characterization and osmoregulatory role of gill Na+/K+/2Cl- cotransporter (NKCC1) in sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), a basal vertebrate. American Journal of Physiology. (in press)

 *Bayse S., *C.A. Shaughnessy, A. Regish, S. D. McCormick. (2019) Upper thermal tolerance and heat shock protein response of juvenile American shad (Alosa sapidissima). Estuaries and Coasts. (in press)

Shaughnessy, C. A., McCormick, S. D. (2018) Reduced thermal tolerance during salinity acclimation in brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) can be rescued by prior treatment with cortisol. J. Exp. Biol. (2018:jeb.169557).

Shaughnessy, C. A., Anderson, E. C., Kasparian, M., Lamontagne, J. M., Bystriansky, J. S. (2017). Survival and osmoregulation of the purple marsh crab (Sesarma reticulatum) at varying salinity and pH. Can. J. Zool. 95: 985–989.

Shaughnessy, C. A., Baker, D. W., Brauner, C. J., Morgan, J. D., Bystriansky, J. S. (2015). Interaction of osmoregulatory and acid-base compensation in white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) during exposure to aquatic hypercarbia and elevated salinity. J Exp Biol. 218: 2712-2719.

* denotes equal contribution