Penny Vlahos

(Ph.D., University Of Massachusetts) Professor of Marine Sciences

Our group’s research interests are in the biogeochemical cycling of elements and compounds such as  carbon and nitrogen, particularly in understanding and identifying the processes that control the global cycling of carbon. The cycling of carbon on our planet is of critical importance to the biosphere, our climate and is directly related to the cycling of other elements. An important subset of this pool is anthropogenic organic compounds that may persist in the environment. Details about our group and news are available at


  • Understanding and identifying the processes that control the global cycling of carbon
  • Alkalinity, aragonite saturation and acidification studies
  • Carbonate and borate chemistry in Arctic marginal ice zones
  • Measuring the distributions and transport of organic contaminants
  • Development of passive chemical samplers for the monitoring of organic contaminants
Current projects:
  • Air-Sea transfer models for the air-sea exchange of carbon dioxide in Sea Spray (NSF)
  • Arctic marginal ice zone alkalinity (AMIZA), (NSF)
  • Alkalinity in Long Island Sound embayments (ALISE), (EPA, SeaGrant)
  • Agrochemicals in Sri Lankan drinking water (NIH)
  • Chemical sensor development and calibration (EPA)

Research Projects


Oceanography Students

  • Lauren Barrett – Ph.D. Student
  • Lucy Hendrickson – Ph.D. Student
  • Samantha Rush Ph.D. Student
  • Emma Shipley – Ph.D. Student
  • Mary McGuinness – M.Sc. 2022

Oceanography Alumni

  • Allison Staniec – Ph.D. 2020
  • Allison Byrd – M.Sc. 2019
  • Joseph K. Warren – M.Sc. 2017
  • Thivanka Ariyarathna – Ph.D. 2016
  • Joanne Elmoznino – Ph.D. 2016
  • Ellen Johnson – M.Sc. 2018
  • Cervinia V. (Ivy) Manalo – M.Sc. 2007
  • Kristin Raub – M.Sc. 2013
  • Tiffany St. George – M.Sc. 2014

Publications for Vlahos

    Courses Taught

    MARN 4030W/5030 – Chemical Oceanography (offered every fall semester)

    Three credits. Composition, origin and solution chemistry of seawater and the marine biogeochemical cycles of salts, elements and gases. Distributions and transfer in the marine environment through chemical equilibria, rates, redox, partitioning, ocean circulation, biological cycles and crustal exchanges.

    MARN 5995- Environmental Organic Chemistry (offered as needed)

    Three credits. Fundamental thermodynamic principles are used to understand the fate and transport of compounds in the environment. The structure of a compound and the physical condidtions which it is released will be control its ulitmate fate and the tools to predict this fate are reviewed. The course involves a significant amount of problem solving based on real-world scenarios.

    MARN 3000 -The Hydrosphere and Global Climate (offered every spring … note I am on sabbatical spring of 2015 and will not be teaching)

    Three credits. This course highlights the interactions of the hydrological, chemical and biological components of the hydrosphere via transport, reservoirs and dynamics of water in environmental systems

    Honors Received


    Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering (March, 2022) Elected Fellow

    Fulbright Specialist (University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka 2015), (University of Cartagena, Columbia 2018), (ETH, Switzerland 2022)

    Fulbright Specialist Roster (Apr., 2014, 2021) Council for International Exchange of Scholars

    Research Excellence Award (Apr., 2012) University of Connecticut Avery Point

    Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences (Mar., 2011) Inducted member

    Research Excellence Award (Apr., 2010) University of Connecticut Avery Point

    NASA Group Achievement Award (2009) National Aeronautic and Space Agency

    Chancellor’s Distinguished Dissertation Award (Oct, 2001) Univ. of Mass.

    Environmental, Coastal and Ocean Sciences Book Award (May, 2001) Univ. of Mass.

    Dean’s Award for Distinguished Service (May 1998) Univ. of Massachusetts

    Dissertation Proposal Award (May 1997) University of Massachusetts

    Contact Information