Shoshanah Jacobs

Associate Professor
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 x 52743
SSC 2475

Associate Professor - Department of Integrative Biology

Adjunct Associate Professor - Department of Management 

The path that has brought me to the University of Guelph was full of interesting stops along the way. I completed a BSc in Biology with a specialisation in marine biology and studied harbour seal population dynamics and interactions with industry for my honours and Master's theses at the University of New Brunswick, Saint John. Then I went to Nunavut for my PhD research to work on seabirds. My time in the North sparked my interest in expedition logistics and after I graduated from an Ontario university with a PhD in Arctic seabird ecophysiology, I began my career as a polar expedition leader, spending a lot of time in both the North and the South polar regions. Working in Antarctica inspired me to share my experiences with others and led me to discover my passion for teaching. I worked as a freelance lecturer, teaching about climate change, natural history, and even human history! On my travels and guided by my research, I began to explore the theories of knowledge transfer from biology to other disciplines and the pedagogical methods associated with effective transfer. Now in the Department of Integrative Biology, I'm developing multiple research pathways to support students in learning about scientific inquiry. 


A note for students: If you would like to join my research group, please note the following policies: 

1) You do not need to be funded to join. If you have funding, you are welcome. If you do not, please contact me and we can discuss options and opportunities for acquiring funding together. 

2) You do not need to be researching what I research. I enjoy learning new things and your interests will be an asset to the research group. Potential research topics should be related to those explored within the departments of my association.  

  • B.Sc. (honours) - University of New Brunswick, Saint John 1999
  • M.Sc. - University of New Brunswick, Saint John 2001
  • Dipl. Univ. Teaching - University of New Brunswick, Fredericton 2001
  • Ph.D - University of Ottawa 2008

Biomimetics: Biomimetics is an interesting case of knowledge transfer, and very different from an academic setting. Here the 'students' are educated and experienced in a completely different discipline. I am researching the process by which designers develop biomimetic innovations, the entry points of the approach, the biological models that they use and their understanding of them, with the goal of helping to improve access to those unfamiliar with biology. I am working on the largest collection of case studies of biomimetic innovation, the BioM* Innovation Database. With over 380 technologies analysed, the data will allow us to better understand how biological models inspire innovation and will provide us with directions for further advancement.

Higher Education: My research in STEM higher education explores methods of designing disruptive models that can exist within traditional frameworks. This approach recognises that deep systemic change needs to happen gradually and inclusively. To support this approach, I conduct research on higher education pedagogy, androgogy, and curriculum design at all levels, from individual lessons, to program redesign. 

Foraging Ecology: Seabirds are important indicators of ecosystem health. Long-lived birds, in particular, are ideal models to investigate the consequences of large-scale changes to climate. Since the beginning of my PhD in 2001, I have focused my research on the Arctic - primarily in Greenland and Alaska. Broadly speaking, I work on the eco-physiology of breeding seabirds that feed at different trophic levels. I tie all my work to understanding the effects that environmental has and might have. This research has shown that fatty acids can be used as indicators of energy expenditure and of diet. This is a valuable tool for modelling the population level impacts of environmental change. My work has shown that energy for the purposes of reproduction can be derived from different habitats depending upon reproductive stage and this has significant implications for the identification and conservation of sensitive ecosystems. I have also demonstrated that simulated increases in energy expenditure of parents have direct consequences on offspring in long lived seabirds. I am currently expanding my approach to incorporate more direct measures of foraging strategies to account for a broader range of individual natural history characteristics. 

Education and Biomimetics 

Bingham, B., Coulter, C., Cottenie, K., & Jacobs, S. (in press).  The benefits of an online instructional metacognition guide on student performance.   Canadian Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

Jacobs, S., & Wanieck, K. (in press). Biom*: on becoming a teachable discipline (invited). In Biomimicry for Materials, Design and Habitats: Innovations and Applications.

Wanieck, K., Ritzinger, D., Zollfrank, C., & Jacobs, S. (2020).  Biomimetics: Teaching the tools of the trade.   FEBS Open Bio., doi: 10.1002/2211-5463.12963  

Jacobs, S., Loring, P., & Gillis, D. (2020).  The university remains open for instruction, but closed for most other services.   Canadian Science Policy Centre, 1 (1), 26-28.

Sigal, M., & Jacobs, S. (2019).  Providing Scaffolding: An applied analysis on the efficacy of 4U and university level preparatory STEM courses.   Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. 10 (10)., doi:

Chirazi, J., Wanieck, K., Fayemi, P., Zollfrank, C., & Jacobs, S. (2019).  What do we learn from good practices of Biologically-inspired Design in innovation?   Applied Biosciences and Bioengineering, 9, 650.

Newton, G., Poung, K., & Laila, A. (2019).  Perception of Biology Instructors on Using Student Evaluations to Inform Their Teaching. International Journal of Higher Education, 8 (1), 133, doi: 10.5430/ijhe.v8n1p133.

Hobbins*, J., Eisenbach, M., Ritchie, K., & Jacobs, S. (2018). "Investigating the Relationship Between Residence Learning Community Participation and Student Academic Outcomes," Canadian Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9(2):7.

Manley*, B., Elliot, S., & Jacobs, S. (2017).  Expedition Cruising in the Canadian Arctic: Visitor Motives and the Influence of Education Programming on Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviours.   Resources, 6 (3), 1-20.

Wanieck*, K., Fayemi, P., Zollfrank, C., & Jacobs, S. R. (2017).  Tools to support and facilitate biomimetics.   Bioinspired, biomimetic, and nanobiomaterials, 6 (2), 53-66.

Cash-Barlow*, C., Letargo*, J., Graether, S., & Jacobs, S. (2017).  An analysis of the perceptions and resources of large university classes.   CBE Life Sciences Education, 16 (33), 1-12.

Gillis, D., Nelson*, J., Driscoll*, B., Hodgins, K., Fraser, E., Jacobs, S. (2017).  Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Research and Education in Canada: A Review and Suggested Framework.   Collected Essays in Learning and Teaching, 10, 203-222.

Hoeller, N., Farnsworth, M., Jacobs, S., Chirazi, J., Salustri, F., et al. (2016).  A Systems View of Bioinspiration: Bridging the Gaps.   INSIGHT, 19 (1), 36-40.

Hobbins*, J., Eisenbach, M., Jacobs, S., & Ritchie, K. (2016).  Residence learning communities at Canadian comprehensive institutions.   Teaching and Learning Innovations Journal, 18.

Jacobs, S., Bender, S., & McAdam, A. (2015).  The Dandelion Outreach Program: Learning through inquiry-based community engagement.   Evolution: Education and Outreach, 8, 4, doi: 10.1186/s12052-015-0033-8.

Landry*, A., Jacobs, S. R., & Newton, G. (2015).  Use of Peer Assessment in a Graduate Level Writing Assignment.   International Journal of Higher Education, 4 (1), 38-51.

Jacobs, S. (2015).  Reversing the process of learning.   Teaching and Learning Innovations Journal, 17.

Jacobs, S. (2014).  Biomimetics: a simple foundation will lead to new insight about process.   International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, 9 (2), 83-94.

Jacobs, S., Nichols*, E., & Helms, M. (2014).  Where are we now and where are we going? The BioM Innovation Database.   Journal of Mechanical Design, 136., doi: 10.1115/1.4028171.



Dolson, S., Loewen, E., Jones, K., Jacobs, S., Solis, A., Hallwachs, W., Janzen, D.H., and Smith, M.A. (2021).  Diversity and phylogenetic community structure across elevation during climate change in a family of hyperdiverse neotropical beetles (Staphylinidae).   Ecography, 44, 740-752

Ammendolia, J., Saturno, J., Brooks, A., Jacobs, S., & Jambeck, J. (2020).  An emerging source of plastic pollution: Environmental presence of plastic personal protective equipment (PPE) debris related to COVID-19 in a metropolitan city.   Environmental Pollution, 269 116160, doi:

Collins, S., Hatch, S., Elliott, K., & Jacobs, S. (2019).  Investigating neophobia as a behavioural syndrome to measure mate choice and reproductive success in Rissa tridactyla.   Animal Behaviour, 154, 67-74.

Cunningham*, J., Elliott, K., Hatch, S., Cottenie, K., & Jacobs, S. R. (2018). "Rhinoceros auklets (Cerorhinca monocerata) as samplers of forage fish in the Gulf of Alaska," Marine Ecology Progress Series, 605: 225-240.

Gibson*, D., Adamowicz, S., Jacobs, S., & Smith, A. (2018). "Patterns of host specificity: The aphids of Churchill, Manitoba," Environmental Entomology, 47: 77-86.

Braune, B., Jacobs, S. R., & Gaston, A. (2018). "Variation in organochlorine and mercury levels in first and replacement eggs of a single-egg clutch breeder, the thick-billed murre, at a breeding colony in the Canadian Arctic," The Science of the Total Environment, 610, 462-468.

Cunningham*, J., Le Vaillant, M., Gaston, A., Roper-Coudert, Y., Kato, A., Jacobs, S., Elliott, K. (2017).  Reduced activity during middle-age for thick-billed murres (Urialomvia): evidence for age-related trends in fine-scale foraging behaviour.   Animal Behaviour, 126, 271-280.

Jacobs, S., Elliott, K. H., & Gaston, T. (2013).  Parents are a drag: long lived birds share costs with their offspring.  PLoS ONE, 8:e54594.

Jacobs, S., Elliott, K. H., Gaston, A. J., Guigueno, M. F., Redman, P., J. R. Speakman, and J.M. Weber (2012).  Determining seabird body condition using non-lethal measures.   Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 85, 85-95, doi: 85:85-95.

Jacobs, S., Edwards, D., Ringrose, J., Elliott, K. H., Weber, J. M., Gaston, A.J. (2011).  Changes in body composition during breeding: Reproductive strategies of three seabird species under poor environmental condition.   Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 158, 77-82, doi: B 158:77-82.

Jacobs, S., Elliott, K. H., Gaston, A. J., & Weber, J. M. (2009).  Fatty acid signatures of female Brunnich's guillemots suggests reliance on local prey for replacement egg production.   Journal of Avian Biology, 40, 327-336.

Elliott, K. H., Jacobs, S., Ringrose, J., Gaston, A. J., & Davoren, G. K. (2008).  Is mass loss in Brunnich's guillemots Uria Iomvia an adaptation for improved flight performance or improved diver performance?   Journal of Avian Biology, 39, 619-628, doi: 39:619-628.

Terhune, J. M., Hoover, C. L., & Jacobs, S. R. (2002).  Potential detection ranges of underwater acoustic harassment devices in the Bay of Fundy.   Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 33 (2), 176-183.

Jacobs, S. & Terhune, J. M. (2002).  The effectiveness of acoustic harassment devices: seal reaction studies and noise exposure model in the Bay of Fundy, Canada.   Aquatic Mammals, 28 (2), 147-158.

Jacobs, S. & Terhune, J. M. (2000).  Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) numbers along the New Brunswick coast of the Bay of Fundy in autumn in relation to aquaculture.   Northeastern Naturalist, 7, 289-296.

  • ICON (IdeaCongress): available to all students across campus. Transdisciplinary course in Knowledge Translation and Transfer, community-engaged learning in social innovation and entreprenurship.  
  • Business Consulting (MGMT*4050 MGMT*4060)
  • Arctic biodiversity (BIOL*2300)
  • Humans in the Natural World (BIOL*1500)
  • Discovering Biodiversity (BIOL*1070)
  • Invertebrate Morphology and Evolution (ZOO*2700)
  • Lab Studies in Ornithology (ZOO*4920) 
  • Brittany Manley - MSc (2013-2015)
  • Justine Hobbins - MSc (2014-2016)
  • Josh Cunningham - MSc (2015-2017)
  • Kristina Wanieck - PhD (2015-2020)
  • Carson Balestreri - MA (2019 - 2020)
  • Bailey Bingham - MSc (2019-  ) 
  • Jessica Nelson - MSc (2020-   )
  • Christine Mishra - MSc (2020-   )
  • Amanda Seminuk - MSc (2020-   )
  • Elizabeth Porter - MSc (2020-     )
  • Bryan Vanderbrink - MSc (2021-   )