Dr Shawn Adrian Means

BSc MSc Univ. New Mexico, PhD UoA

Profile Image
Research Fellow
Honorary Academic


Shawn Means completed his Bachelor and Masters of Science in Applied Mathematics at the University of New Mexico. In his Masters thesis, he studied the dynamics of calcium and sodium in neurotransmission, which hold implications for short-term learning via 'facilitated' increased responses to neuronal activity.

He later joined the computational biology efforts at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a member of their technical staff. Shawn coordinated developments of reaction-diffusion models for calcium signalling in systems such as in cardiac cells and generation of heart arrhythmias. He further performed modifications of the extensive finite-element numerical capabilities constantly under development at Sandia for suitable application to computational cell biology.

In 2006, Shawn started a doctoral project in Applied Mathematics with Professor James Sneyd in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Auckland, and completed his thesis on calcium signaling in gastrointestinal cells utilising his own customised finite-element solution software.

He joined the gastrointestinal group at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute in 2012 as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, extending his results on calcium dynamics in the gastrointestinal signalling cells, with the aim of illuminating key control mechanisms involved in a variety of gastrointestinal pathologies.

Shawn is now a Research Fellow with the Department of Mathematics, and continues his association with the ABI with an honorary appointment.

Areas of expertise

  • Calcium dynamics in biological cells;
  • Finite element methods for reaction-diffusion;
  • MRI / CT scan image processing & segmentation;
  • FEM meshing and refinement.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Sneyd, J., Means, S., Zhu, D., Rugis, J., Won, J. H., & Yule, D. I. (2017). Modeling calcium waves in an anatomically accurate three-dimensional parotid acinar cell. Journal of theoretical biology, 419, 383-393. 10.1016/j.jtbi.2016.04.030
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: James Sneyd, John Rugis
  • Means, S. A., & Smith, R. J. (2016). The impact of human and vector distributions on the spatial prevalence of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 409, 70-85. 10.1016/j.jtbi.2016.08.031
  • Means, S. A., & Cheng, L. K. (2014). Mitochondrial calcium handling within the interstitial cells of Cajal. American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver, 307 (1), G107-G121. 10.1152/ajpgi.00380.2013
  • Means, S. A., & Sneyd, J. (2010). Spatio-temporal calcium dynamics in pacemaking units of the interstitial cells of Cajal. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 267 (2).10.1016/j.jtbi.2010.08.008