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Cindy Lee

LeeDistinguished Professor

Ph.D., 1975, University of California at San Diego/ Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Ocean carbon cycle, marine geochemistry of organic compounds, organic and inorganic nitrogen-cycle biochemistry silicate and carbonate biomineralization

Complete List of Publications

Google Scholar Profile


Research Interests

My research is concerned with the distribution and behavior of biogenic organic compounds in the marine environment, and the role of these compounds in the global carbon cycle. Understanding how organic compounds behave requires knowledge of the biological, geological, and physical processes in the sea. Most biogenic organic compounds are produced in surface waters by phytoplankton as a result of photosynthesis. These compounds can enter the marine food chain by acting as food for bacteria or zooplankton. Organic compounds can also be affected by chemical and physical processes such as adsorption, photochemical degradation, and transport by currents. I am interested in the rates and mechanisms of the transformation reactions which occur as organic compounds are affected by these processes. To study transformation reactions, my students and I identify and measure the amount of individual organic compounds present in the environment with analytical techniques like gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). We also use radiolabeled compounds as tracers to simulate the behavior of naturally occurring compounds. I am interested in organic compounds in all environments, particularly seawater, surface microlayer and sediments of open ocean and coastal areas.

Selected Publications

Abramson, L., C. Lee, Z. Liu, J. Szlosek and S. Wakeham. 2010. Exchange between suspended and sinking particles in the northwest Mediterranean as inferred from the organic composition of in situ pump and sediment trap samples. Limnol. Oceanogr. 55: 725-739

Lee, C., Peterson, M.L, Wakeham, S.G., Armstrong, R.A., Cochran, J.K., Miquel, J.C., Fowler, S.W., Hirschberg, D., Beck, A., and Xue, J. 2009. Particulate organic matter and ballast fluxes measured using time-series and settling velocity sediment traps in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. Deep-Sea Res. II, doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2008.11.029

Engel, A., Abramson, L., Szlosek, J., Liu, Z., Stewart, G., Hirschberg, D., and Lee, C. 2009. Investigating the effect of ballasting by CaCO3 in Emiliania huxleyi: II. Decomposition of particulate organic matter. Deep-Sea Res. II, doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2008.11.028

Abramson, L., Wirick, S., Lee, C., Jacobsen, C., and Brandes, J.A. 2009. The use of soft X-ray spectromicroscopy to investigate the distribution and composition of organic matter in a diatom frustule and a biomimetic analog. Deep-Sea Res. II, doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2008.11.031

Liu, Z. and Lee, C. (2007) The role of organic matter in the sorption capacity of marine sediments. Mar. Chem., 105: 240-257

Peterson, M.L. Wakeham, S.G., Lee, C., Askea, M.A. and Miquel, J.C. (2005) Novel techniques for collection of sinking particles in the ocean and determining their settling rates. Limnol. Oceanogr.: Methods, 3: 520-532.

Lee, C., S.G. Wakeham and C. Arnosti. (2004) Particulate organic matter in the sea: The composition conundrum. Ambio 33: 565-575.

Ingalls, A.E., C. Lee, S.G. Wakeham and J.I. Hedges (2003) The role of biominerals in the sinking flux and preservation of amino acids in the Southern Ocean along 170oW. Deep-Sea Res. II. 50: 709-734.

Armstrong R. A., C. Lee, J.I. Hedges, S. Honjo and S.G.Wakeham (2002) A new, mechanistic model for organic carbon fluxes in the ocean based on the quantitative association of POC with ballast minerals. Deep-Sea Res. II, 49: 219-236.

Hedges, J.I., J.A. Baldock, Y. Gélinas, C. Lee, M. Peterson and S.G. Wakeham (2001) Evidence for non-selective preservation of organic matter in sinking marine particles. Nature 409: 801-804.

Kuznetsova, M. and C. Lee (2001) Enhanced extracellular enzymatic peptide hydrolysis in the sea surface microlayer. Mar. Chem. 73: 319-332.

Lee, C., S.G. Wakeham and J.I. Hedges (2000) Composition and flux of particulate amino acids and chloropigments in equatorial Pacific seawater and sediments. Deep-Sea Research I, 47: 1535-1568.

Pantoja, S. and C. Lee (1999) Peptide decomposition by extracellular hydrolysis in coastal seawater and salt marsh sediment. Mar. Chem. 63: 273-291.

Wakeham, S. G., C. Lee, J. I. Hedges, P.J. Hernes and M. L. Peterson (1997) Molecular indicators of diagenetic status in marine organic matter. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 61: 5363-5369.

Lee, C. (1992) Controls on organic carbon preservation: The use of stratified water bodies to compare intrinsic rates of decomposition in oxic and anoxic systems. Geochem. Cosmochim. Acta, 56: 3323-3335.

SoMAS faculty and alumni attend XMAS-III Meeting in China

Above photo, back row: James Liu (PhD), John Reinfelder (PhD), Anja Engel (Post-Doc), Anne McElroy (Faculty), Xiaohai Yan (PhD), Xiaolin Li (PhD), Peng Chen (PhD).  Front Row: Tung-Yuan Ho (PhD), Fanghua Xu (PhD), Cindy Lee (Faculty), Tiantian Tang (PhD), Deli Wang...

Seasons Greetings!

Welcome!Welcome to SoMAS! Many opportunities await you here. 2017 will be an exciting year to enter a career in marine and atmospheric sciences. Read More

SoMAS Alumni Reunite at 2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting in New Orleans

SoMAS faculty and alumni attending the 2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting in New Orleans gathered for an alumni reunion. Professors Gordon Taylor and Mary Scranton organized the event and invited SoMAS alumni present at the conference to reunite.  Other SoMAS faculty in...

Wen Cong, URECA Researcher of the Month – February 2016

From Wen Cong, URECA Researcher of the Month, February 2016 Marine Sciences major, Class of 2016 Research Mentor: Dr.Qingzhi Zhu, School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences   “I am very lucky to have Dr. Zhu as my mentor,” reflects Wen Cong, a Marine Sciences...

Inaugural Class of ASLO Fellows includes Two SoMAS Professors

From ASLO Fellows Program, November 2015 Congratulations to the inaugural class of ASLO Fellows! The Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Fellows program was initiated in 2015 to honor ASLO members who have advanced the aquatic sciences via their...

Cindy Lee Complete List of Publications

Distinguished Professor Ph.D., 1975, University of California at San Diego/ Scripps Institution of Oceanography Ocean carbon cycle, marine geochemistry of organic compounds, organic and inorganic nitrogen-cycle biochemistry silicate and...

Bermuda Rise (BaRFlux)

Principal Investigators: David Black, Cindy Lee, Rob Armstrong and Kirk Cochran Funded by NSF Ocean Sciences Division Students Supported: TBA Project Description:The goal of this work is to achieve a better mechanistic understanding of the ocean’s role in the global...

SoMAS’s Cindy Lee Receives ASLO’s 2011 G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award

Dr. Cindy Lee of the SoMAS faculty is one of the world’s most distinguished marine chemists. Recently, Cindy was honored by the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), one of the world’s leading professional organizations for research and education in...


Principal Investigators: Cindy Lee, and Anja Engel of the Helmholtz-Zentrum fur Ozeanforschung Kiel (GEOMAR) Funded by: National Science Foundation Chemical Oceanography Program Students Supported: Project Description: ADAGIO is a joint U.S.-German study of the...

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