Mary Wilcox Silver   Mary Wilcox Silver
Professor Emeritus of Ocean Sciences

Ocean Sciences Department
University of California
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Tel: (831) 459-2908
Fax: (831) 459-4882


Curriculum Vitae

Positions Held
Education, Honors & Professional Societies
Research Interest & Publications
Extramural Projects & Professional Activities
Sponsored Student Research


2009-present Professor Emeritus of Ocean Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz
1987-June 2009 Professor of Ocean Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz
1997 Visiting Research Scientist, Institute of Marine Sciences, Zanzibar, University of Dar es Saleem, Tanzania 
(6 month sabbatical)
1989-present Adjunct Scientist, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Pacific Grove, CA
Chair, Ocean Sciences Department, University of California, Santa Cruz
(Department previously known as:  Marine Sciences Department, Marine Sciences Board,
and Marine Sciences Committee)
1990-1995 (Summers) Instructor in Oceanography, Bermuda Biological Station for Research, St. George, Bermuda
1981-1987 Associate Professor of Marine Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
1985 Visiting Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (Sabbatical)
1972-1981 Assistant Professor of Marine Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
1971-1972 Assistant Professor of Biology, San Francisco State University
1970-1971 Lecturer, California State University, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories


1971 Ph.D. Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
1963-64 University of Tubingen, Germany. Studies in Physiology
1963 A.B. Zoology, University of California, Berkeley (with honors)

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(Selected - last 10 years)

2011 Okubo Distinguished Scholar of the Year (selected by NYU-Stonybrook graduate students in oceanography)
2010 Fellow of the Oceanography Society
2008 Honorary Lecturer, American Geophysical Union, Rachael Carson lecture, Pan American Meeting, Florida
2007 Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
2006 Synergy Lecture Series (Explorations in Science and Society, hosted by Science and Engineering Library).  Invited Speaker, quarterly lecture series at UCSC, selected by Science Library: “Red Tides, Shellfish, and Culinary Traditions.
2005 Annual Faculty Research Lecturer: (Selected by UCSC Academic Senate, 1 Professor is elected each year by the UCSC Academic Senate) "A Naturalist's View: Toxic Algae in the Coastal Ocean".
2004-2005 Faculty Research Lecturer, Selected by the UC Academic Senate Committee on the Faculty Research Lecture (1 faculty from any division selected per year)
2003-2004 Excellence through Diversity Award.  (For role as “spokesperson, mentor,advisor, and role model for women in science careers”).  Awarded by Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood at ceremony, May 9, 2004.
2002 Mary Sears Woman Pioneer in Oceanography Award.  Given by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  First Award Recipient in national search (Given to a woman for both research contributions and mentoring of young scientists)
2001 Ricketts Memorial Award (“for exemplary work in the field of Marine Sciences”).  (Award given by the central California research community to a California Scientist).

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2007-present Fellow, American Geophysical Union
1997-present Fellow, California Academy of Sciences
1996 Member, Corporation of the Bermuda Biological Station for Research (elected by Board of Trustees
1972-present American Society of Limnology & Oceanography (1989-1992 elected Member at Large)
1972-present American Association for the Advancement of Science
1973-present Phycological Society of America
1982-present American Geophysical Union


Toxic phytoplankton and food webs; pelagic detrital communities; particle dynamics; plankton ecology


Silver, M.W. and others. 2011. Toxic diatoms and domoic acid in natural and iron enriched water of the oceanic Pacific. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 107::20762-20767

Mazzillo F.F.M. and others (including M.W. Silver). 2010. Angler exposure to domoic acid via consumption of contaminated fishes. Aquatic Biol 9:1-12

Bargu, S, J., M.W. Silver and others. 2010. Complexity of domoic acid-related sea lion strandings in Monterey Bay, California: foraging patterns, climate events, and toxic blooms: Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 418:213

Jester, R. and others (including M.W. Silver). 2009. A shift in the dominant toxin-producing algal species in central California alters phycotoxins in food webs Harmful Algae 8:291-298

Kvitek, R.G. et. al. (including M.W. Silver). 2008. Domoic acid contamination within eight representative species from the benthic food web of Monterey Bay, Ca, USA. Mar Ecol-Prog Ser 367:35-47

Curtiss C.C. and others (including M.W. Silver).  2008.  The emergence of Cochlodinium along the California Coast (USA).  Harmful Algae 7:337-346

T. Goldstein, J. A. K. Mazet,  T. S. Zabka, G. Langlois, K. M. Colegrove, M. Silver, S. Bargu,  F. Van Dolah, T. Leighfield,  P. A. Conrad, J. Barakos, D. C. Williams, S. Dennison, M. Haulena and F. M. D. Gulland.  2008 Novel symptomatology and changing epidemiology of domoic acid toxicosis in California sea lions: an increasing risk to marine mammal health."  Proc. Royal Soc. B. (UK) 275:267-276.

Curtiss, C. C., G. W. Langlois, L. B. Busse, F. Mazzillo, and M. W. Silver. 2008.  The emergence of Cochlodinium along the California Coast USA).Harmful Algae 7:337-346

Bargu, S., C. L. Powell, Z. Wang, G. J. Doucette, and M.W. Silver.  2008.  Note on the occurrence of Pseudo-nitzschia australis and domoic acid in squid from Montrey Bay, CA (USA).  Harmful Algae 7:45-51.

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Vigilant, V. L.  and M. W. Silver. 2007.  Domoic acid in benthic flatfish on the continental shelf of Monterey Bay, California, USA. Mar. Biol.  151(6):2053-2062

Osborn, D. A., M. W. Silver, C. G. Castro, S. M. Bros., and F. P. Chavez.  2007. The habitat of mesopelagic scyphomedusae in Monterey Bay, California, USA.  Deep Sea Res.I 54(8):1241-1255.

Buesseler, K. O., and other authors including M. W. Silver.  2007.  Revisiting Carbon Flux through the Ocean’s Twilight Zone.  Science 316:567- 570.  (Silver microphotography image is on the cover of this issue)

Silver, M. W.  2006.  Protecting ourselves from Shellfish Poisoning.  American Scientist 94(4):316-322

Busse, L. B. Venrick, E. L., Antrobus, R. , P. E. Miller, V. Vigilant, M. W. Silver, C. Mengelt, L. Mydlarz, and B. B. Prezelin.  Domoic acid in phytoplankton and fish in San Diego, CA, USA.  2006. Harmful Algae 5(1):91-101.

Bargu, S., Lefebvre, K., and M. W. Silver, M. W.  2006.  Effect of dissolved domoic acid on the grazing rate of krill, Euphausia pacific.  Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 312:169-175.

O’Halloran, C. M. W. Silver, T. R. Holman, and C. A. Scholin. 2005.   Heterosigma akashiwo in central California waters.  (Harmful Algae).

Fire, S., and M. W. Silver.  2005.  Domoic acid in the Santa Cruz wharf fishery.  California Fish and Game.

Busse, L. B., E. L. Venrick, R. Antrobus, P. E. Miller, V. Vigilant, M. W. Silver, C. Mengelt, L. Mydlarz, and B. B. Prezselin.  2005.  Documentation of domoic acid in phytoplankton and fish in San Diego, California. (Harmful Algae.)

Bargu, S., and M. W. Silver.  2003.  First field evidence of krill grazing on the toxic diatom genus Pseudo-nitzschia in Monterey Bay, Calif.  Bull. Mar. Sci. 72:629-638.

Bargu, B. Marinovic, S. Mansergh, and M. W. Silver.  2003.  Feeding responses of krill to the toxin-producing diatom Pseudo-nitzschia.  J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 284:87-104.

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M. E. Ferdin, M. E., R. G. Kvitek, C. K. Bretz, C. L. Powell, G. J. Doucette, K. A. Lefebvre, S. Coale and M. W. Silver.  2002.  Emerita analoga (Stimpson) possible new indicator species for the phycotoxin domoic acid in California coastal waters.  Toxicon 40:1259-1265.

Bargu, S., C. Powell, S. Coale, G. Doucette and M. Silver. 2002. Domoic acid detection in krill: a potential vector in marine food webs. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 237:209-216.

Lefebvre, K. A., S. Bargu, T. Kieckhefer, M. W. Silver. 2002. From sanddabs to blue whales: the pervasiveness of domoic acid. Toxicon 40:971-977.

Lefebvre, K. A.; Silver, M. W.; Coale, S. L.; Tjeerdema, R. S. Domoic acid in planktivorous fish in relation to toxic Pseudo-nitzschia cell densities. 2002 Marine Biology 140(3):625-631.

Lefebvre, Kathi A.; Dovel, Shonna L.; Silver, Mary W. 2001. Tissue distribution and neurotoxic effects of domoic acid in a prominent vector species, the northern anchovy Engraulis mordax. Marine Biology 138(4):693-700.

Scholin, C. A. and others (including M. Silver), 2000. Mortality of sea lions along the central California coast linked to a toxic diatom bloom. Nature 403:80-84.

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EXTRAMURAL PROJECTS    (Major extramural funding)
    (selected last 10 years)

2010-2013 EID: roles of a marine host cycle and particle aggregation in transmission of zoonotic pathogens in a coastal ecosystem. P. Conrad Univ. Ca. Davis main PI, M.W. Silver Co-Pi). NSF
2007-2008 Domoic Acid Toxins in the  Oceanic Pacific in Iron Enrichment Studies NSF (SGER: small grant for exploratory study).  With S. Bargu.
2006-2007 Exposure of Santa Cruz Wharf Anglers to Domoic Acid Toxins (with C. Pomeroy and R. Prado), Silver is lead PI. NOAA/Sea Grant
2005-2006 Phytoplankton toxins in critical prey species in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. NOAA, Monterey Bay Sanctuary funds (SiMON award)
2004-2009 California Program for Regional Enhanced Monitoring of Phyco-Toxins (Cal-PReEMPT) (With P.E. Miller, R. Kudela)
2004-2007 Sub-lethal effects of domoic acid on marine mammals: sentinels of human health. (With the Marine Mammal Center/Tiburon California)  NOAA
2003-2008 Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).  Collaborative projects, mostly with Dr. John Ryan
2003-2006 Toxic Phytoplankton along the California Coast: a 500 mile Perspective.  Collaborative 3-campus award with Scripps Institution (Venrick) and UCSB (Prezelin), Univ. Calif., Office of the President (UCOP). Silver head PI.
2002-2006  Center for Integrative Marine Technology.  Collaborative proposal with Gary  Griggs as lead PI.  NOAA
2002-2006  Vertical Transport in the Global Ocean (VERTIGO).  Collaborative proposal with Ken Buessler (Woods Hole Oceanographic).  NSF
2002-2004  Phycotoxin role in mortality of gray whales in Central California, especially San Francisco Bay.  (with David Casper DVM [UCSC]).  NOAA
2002-2003 Center for Integrative Marine Technology.  Collaborative proposal with Gary Griggs as lead PI, M.  NOAA
2002-2005 Vertical Transport in the Global Ocean (VERTIGO).  Collaborative proposal with Ken Buessler (Woods Hole Oceanographic Proposal) as lead PI, M.  NSF
2001-2003 University of California, Office of the President, UC Marine Council.  Phytoplankton toxins in the California coastal zone.
2002 Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).  Title: Demonstrating New Applications of MBARI’s Probe Technology.
2000–2002 NOAA/NURP.  Suboxic/Anoxic Biogeochemistry of Nepheloid Layers in Monterey Bay. With Frank Sansone [Univ. Hawaii].
2001 Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).  Technology Transfer: demonstrating MBARI’s probe technology using a volunteer corps.

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2006-2007 National HAB (Harmful Algal Bloom) Committee). Panel member
2003-2006 NSF, GEOSCIENCES DIVISION Advisory Committee
2003, 2006 COSEE Lecturer (at COSEE-West, located at UCLA, NSF-sponsored educational program for high school science teachers.  Lectured and was on-line instructor for 1 of about 8 teaching units
2002 Annually give 1-3 lectures at various universities around the country
2001 Ricketts Memorial Lecture, Monterey, CA.  Lecture title: A local story: harmful algae in Monterey Bay?
2001 Life Long Learners Lecture, UCSC.  Lecture: Toxic algae in Monterey Bay?
2001 External Review Committee, University of Georgia, Athens. Reviewer of the marine sciences academic program
2000 Oakland Museum, MARE (adult education) Leadership Institute. Lecture and demonstration on marine plankton.
2000 Search Committee for Director of the California Sea Grant College Program. Met at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD

Activity Participant  (Selected)

2011 Session Co-Chair. Amer. Soc. Limnol. Oceanogr. February 2011, Puerto Rico
Panelist and report writer for document "HARNESS: A National Plan for Algal Toxins and Harmful Algal Blooms, which responded to the mandate of the 'Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 2004', an act of Congress ".

External Review Panel Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute/MIT joint PhD program in Oceanography.  (Served as the Biological Oceanographer Reviewer).

Life Sciences Workshop, California Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education, speaker and participant at San Jose State University.

Gordon Research Conference, Williams College. Conference on Mycotoxins and Phycotoxins. Presentation title: Widespread Environmental Impacts of Domoic Acid on the California Coast.

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Present Graduate Students

2006- Fernanda Mazzillo - Ph.D.
2005- Deborah Fauquier- Ph.D.

Ph.D. Theses Supervised
2009 Rozalind Jester (Antrobus); "An investigation into the prevalence of Alexandrium derived toxins in marine food webs"
2008 Veronica Vigilant; "The occurrence of the harmful algal bloom toxin, domoic acid, in nearshore and offshore benthic communities of Monterey Bay, California"
2007 Spencer Fire; "Effects of Karenia Brevis Blooms on wild coastal Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops Truncatus) in Sarasota Bay, Florida"
2001 Sibel Bargu; "Krill: Victim or Vector? Examining the Place and Role of Krill in Domoic Acid Poisoning Events in Monterey Bay, CA"
2001 Kathi Lefebvre; "Trophic transfer, tissue distribution and neurotoxic consequences of the phycotoxin domoic acid in northern anchovies"
1998 Mike Murrell; "Microbial processes and food web dynamics in a turbid estuary:  northern San Francisco Bay, California, USA"
1999 Peter Miller; "Discriminating Pseudo-nitzschia (Bacillariophyceae) Species using Fluorescently Labeled LSU rRNA-Targeted DNA Probes, and Searching for Bacteria or Plasmids Associated with Pseudo-nitzschia australis"
1996 R.A. Olivieri (Biology); "Plankton dynamics and the fate of primary production in the coastal upwelling ecosystems of the Monterey Bay, California"
1994 Monty Graham (co-advisor with D.C. Potts, Biology); "The physical oceanography and ecology of upwelling shadows"
1993 Deborah Steinberg; "The use of mesopelagic detritus by zooplankton in Monterey Bay, California"
1991 Marilyn Boysen (Biology); "Differential export from a two-layered euphotic zone"
1988 Anthony Michaels (Biology); "Acantharia in the Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles of the Pacific Ocean"
1984 Peter Davoll (Biology); "Microcosms in the Pelagic Zone: A Study of the Microbial Community on Larvacean House Aggregates From Monterey Bay"
1981 Marcia Gowing (Biology); "The Ecology of the Archiannelid Protodriloides Chaetifer and Associated Meiofauna on a California Sand Beach"
1980 David Garrison (Biology); "Studies of Coastal Phytoplankton Populations in Monterey Bay, California"

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Masters Theses Supervised

2007 Christy Southerland; "Diarrhetic Shellfish Toxins linked to local Dinophysis Populations in the California Coastal Waters of Monterey Bay"
2007 Itchung S. Cheung; "Domoic Acid Toxicity in Rock Crabs, Cancer Antennaruis and Cancer Productus, in Monteray Bay, California, USA and Potential Human Toxin Exposure in Crab Hepatopancreas"
2004 Kit Clark  (Co-Sponsor w/Marinovic); "Euphausiid larval ecology, development variability, and recruitment success during the 1997-98 El Niño & 1999 La Niña in the Montere Bay upwelling system"
2003 Chris O'Halloran; "Heterosigma Akashiwo in Central California Waters"
2000 Spencer Fire; "Effects of Karenia Brevis Blooms on wild coastal Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops Truncatus) in Sarasota Bay, Florida"
2000 Robert Jay (Robin) Weber; "The Detection of Diarrhetic Shellfish Toxins In Monterey Bay, California"
1999 Sibel Bargu; "Cadmium and Zinc Complexation With Coastal Diatom Cell Surface Sites in Seawater"
1999 Alicia (Cricket) Grice; "Marine Snow Patchiness Studies Using Quantitative Video"
1999 Dawn Osborn (Murray); "Studies In Mesopelagic Cnidarians In Monterey Bay, California"
1998 Roman Marin; "Evaluation of a Semi-automated rRNA Probe-based Assay as a Means to Rapidly Identify and Enumerate Several Species of Pseudo-Nitzchia (Bacillariophyceae) in Cultured and Natural Samples"
1995 Peter Walz (Marine Sciences); "Pseudo-nitzschia species and domoic acid in Monterey Bay, California: October 1991 - December 1993"
1995 Graeme Haywood (Marine Sciences); "Domoic acid analyses of zooplankton, fish and rhodophyta in Monterey Bay."
1991 Pat Smith (Marine Sciences); "Effects of the 1982-83 El Niño on phytoplankton populations in Monterey Bay, California"
1990 Dana Bland (Marine Sciences); "The relationship of organic and inorganic components of eggshells to DDE content in eggs of California brown pelicans and bald eagles"
1989 Ann Close (Marine Sciences); "The chemical composition of Antarctic pack ice communities in early austral winter."
1988 Lisa Borok (Marine Sciences); "The Morphology of Two Feeding Appendages of Calanoid Copepods from the Benthic Boundary Layer"
1989 Robin Pinto (Marine Sciences); "A Variety of Symbiotic Associations Between Marine Ciliates and Algae from the North Pacific Ocean"
1983 Lee Anne Martinez (Biology); "Nitrogen Fixation by Floating Diatom Mats: A Source of New Nitrogen to Oligotrophic Oceanic Waters"
1982 Jim Mitchell (Marine Sciences); "The Distribution and Associations of Modern and Fossil Archaeomonads"
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