Cynthia Pilskaln


Cynthia Pilskaln

Professor Emerita

SMAST / Estuarine & Ocean Sciences

Biogeochemical Particle Flux and Sedimentation Group Website





School for Marine Science & Technology West, New Bedford 218B


1978University of VermontB.A.
1980Harvard UniversityM.A.
1985Harvard UniversityPh.D





Thesis research on an experimental or theoretical project in Marine Science or Technology under a faculty advisor.


Research activities

  • GOMTOX: Dynamics of Alexandrium fundyense distributions in the Gulf of Maine - an observational and modeling study of nearshore and offshore shellfish toxicity, vertical toxin flux, and bloom dynamics in a complex shelf sea, NOAA/ECOHAB, $831,883 (Pilskaln PI), 2006-2013 (includes C & Si cycling and fluxes and benthic nepheloid layer research)
  • Deposition and resuspension of Alexandrium fundyense resting cysts in the Gulf of Maine: Phase II/Modeling, NOAA/ECOHAB, $149,990 (Pilskaln PI), 2009-2014 (includes modeling of bottom resuspension & benthic nepheloid layer dynamics
  • Ocean acidification impacts on productive shelves, NOAA/WHOI, ~$75,000 (Pilskaln Co-PI; shared among WHOI and UNH colleagues), 2012-present (includes monitoring and process measurements)
  • Brazil Current studies on the southern Brazil continental margin, funded by Brazil federal agency through Univ. of Sao PauIo Inst. of Oceanography, Brazil, Pilskaln US Collaborator, new/2014 (4 years)


Research interests

  • Marine biogeochemistry and sedimentology
  • Geochemical particle fluxes in the ocean and large lake systems with emphasis on their quantitative relationship to climate forcing over short and long time scales and to underlying sediment record
  • Organic carbon and biogenic silica cycling including aggregation, export and remineralization processes in the water column and at the sediment/water interface
  • Development and use of particle imaging instrumentation, submersible vehicle-based technology, and image analysis techniques for the in-situ study of marine particulates and plankton

Select publications

  • Villareal T.A., C.H. Pilskaln, J.P. Montoya and M. Dennett (2014).
    Upward nitrate transport by phytoplankton in oceanic waters: balancing nutrient budgets in oligotrophic seas
    Peer J
  • Hwang, J., D.B. Montluçon, C.H. Pilskaln and T.I. Eglinton (2013).
    Molecular and isotopic insights into POM sources and dynamics in Jordan Basin, Gulf of Maine
    Continental Shelf Research, 68, 15-22.
  • Pilskaln, C.H., D.M. Anderson, D.J. McGillicuddy, Jr., B.A. Keafer, K. Hayashi and K. Norton (2013).
    Spatial and temporal variability of Alexandrium cyst fluxes in the Gulf of Maine: Relationship to seasonal particle export and resuspension
    Deep Sea Research II