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Cindy Lee

LeeDistinguished Professor Emeritus

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 has been 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 have been 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 identified and measured the amount of individual organic compounds present in the marine environment, particularly seawater, surface microlayer, particles, and sediments of open ocean and coastal areas.

Selected Publications

Wang, W., C. Lee, J.K. Cochran, F.W. Primeau, and R.A. Armstrong. 2017. A novel statistical analysis of chloropigment fluxes to constrain particle exchange and organic matter remineralization rate constants in the Mediterranean Sea. Mar. Chem. 192: 49-58,  doi: 10.1016/j.marchem.2017.03.011.

Cisternas Novoa, C., C. Lee, A. Engel.  2015. Transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) and Coomassie stainable particles (CSP): Differences between their origin and vertical distributions in the ocean. Mar. Chem. 175: 56-71,

Tang, T., C. Lee, and K. Kisslinger. 2014. Silicate deposition on decomposing cyanobacteria as a source of particulate silicate in the ocean. Nature Comm, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5143.

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.


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...

2007 MSRC Student Recruitment Weekend a Success!

MSRC students, faculty and staff came together this past weekend, March 23-25, to host the 2007 Student Recruitment Weekend and welcome prospective graduate students to the program. Friday morning, over 20 prospective students arrived on campus from all around the...

Nicholas Fisher Receives ‘Distinguished Professor’ Designation

Last month, the State University of New York Board of Trustees named MSRC' s Nicholas Fisher a Distinguished Professor - the highest honor accorded a member of the professorate. The rank of Distinguished Professor acknowledges those individuals who have achieved...

Ocean Impacts on Global Climate Change

A site in the northeast Mediterranean Sea is providing MSRC researchers with new information about the ocean's role in the global carbon cycle. The MedFlux project - a large international collaborative effort including MSRC professors Cindy Lee, Kirk Cochran and Rob...

Four MSRC Professors Recognized at Faculty Achievement Dinner

Four MSRC faculty were among those acknowledged last month at the 10th annual Faculty Achievement Dinner held at the Old Field Club on November 9 and hosted by Provost Robert McGrath. The dinner, organized by the Office of Conferences and Special Events, recognizes...


Principal Investigators: Cindy Lee, Rob Armstrong, Kirk Cochran and investigators from 6 other US and European institutions. Funded by NSF Ocean Sciences Division Students Supported: Gillian Stewart, Aaron Beck, Jennifer Szlosek, Zhanfei Liu, and Jianhong Xue (all...

OCTET Workshop Report

Acknowledgements We thank the National Science Foundation Division of OceanSciences, NOAA Office of Global Programs, and NASA Office of EarthScience for financial support for this workshop. We particularlythank Don Rice of the NSF Chemical Oceanography Program...

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