Dr. McPhee-Shaw is a physical oceanographer whose research primarily focuses on the physics of deep, subsurface waves interacting with continental slopes and shelves but also covers a range of other topics in coastal circulation. Pre-Ph.D. employment included work at the US Geological Survey and the US Forest Service. Previous academic appointments include postdoctoral research at UC Santa Barbara and the US Naval Postgraduate School, and Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and promotion to Professor at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, San Jose State University. Dr. McPhee-Shaw served as the Director of WWU's Shannon Point Marine Center from 2014 to 2017, then joined the Huxley faculty in Fall 2017.
Teaching interests and experience include general oceanography, coastal oceanography, climate change, applied and biological fluid dynamics, applied and environmental mathematics. McPhee-Shaw has been chief scientist on deep-sea expeditions to west coast continental slope, shelf, and canyon environments, and lead principal investigator on multi-institution projects funded by the National Science Foundation.
Civic Engagement. McPhee-Shaw is a Leopold Leadership Fellow, with a continued interest in strengthening communications and conversations between scientists and society. She has served on the nationwide board for the NOAA US Integrated Ocean Observing System, a collective effort of universities and institutions around the country who built and maintain the national infrastructure of coastal ocean monitoring and forecasting, and was elected to chair the 2019 International Gordon Conference on Coastal Ocean Dynamics.
She has served on many state and regional panels, working groups, and boards; some related to science and some not. A few examples of boards and councils include: the Central and Northern CA Ocean Observing System (chair), Bayview Academy Public Charter School (Monterey, CA), Stanford/Hopkins Statewide Working Group on Coastal Hypoxia, WWU's representative on Governor's Washington State Marine Resources Advisory Council, and work with the Maritime Industry.
One of McPhee-Shaw's craziest science-outreach experiences was traveling to Scotland to film a Discovery Channel TV Show (playing the part of the lake-physics expert : ) ), 'The Loch Ness Monster Revealed," with two other scientists and host Philippe Cousteau (check it out on imdb.com).
Much of my research has centered around the questions of how waves and currents move stuff around in the coastal ocean. This "stuff" can include sediment, nutrients, oxygen, water of varying pH, you name it. Most often on a continental shelf, the currents are caused by a combination of winds, tides, surface waves, and internal waves, but there can also be some lovely physics involving turbulent mixing involved, and the problems get a bit harder to solve in that case. Surface waves are the kind you see rolling around on the surface ocean and that you can surf on when they break (we wrote one paper about how surface waves gently shoving plankton into a coastal boundary can cause some plankton blooms). Internal waves are subsurface waves supported by a fluid of stratified density (kind of like oil and water, but not quite as extreme). They are are ubiquitous in the ocean as well as in the atmosphere, and are an important way of moving wind and tidal energy around our planet. They do interesting things when they run into continental margins. Wind-driven and buoyancy-driven flows are important in coastal and lake environments and will provide plenty of interesting transport questions in applied environmental fluid dynamics studies in the future.
B.A. Physics, Dartmouth, Ph.D. Oceanography, University of Washington (2000)