Sean Sylva headshot photo

Sean Sylva

Science/Data team
Research Associate III
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?

My research mainly focuses on novel approaches to measure the stable isotopes of light hydrocarbons found in hydrothermal vent fluids.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

Interest in science and a natural draw to the ocean.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

A high school Science teacher.

What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?

The most fascinating aspect of my work the way it constantly changes.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

This is my first job after my undergraduate degree.

What are your degrees and certifications?

B.S. Geological Oceanography. University of Rhode Island.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy mountain biking and being outdoors.

How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program?

I'm involved with this project to collect hydrothermal fluids and measure their gas chemistry.

What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Get as much experience in a wide range of skills as possible. 


Sean participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions:

Selected Publications


Milesi, V., Shock, E., Seewald, J., Trembath-Reichert, E., Sylva, S.P., Huber, J.A., Lim, D.S.S, German, C.R. (2023). Multiple parameters enable deconvolution of water-rock reaction paths in low-temperature vent fluids of the Kamaʻehuakanaloa (Lōʻihi) seamount. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 348: 54-67.…


Hu, S. K., Herrera, E. L., Smith, A. R., Pachiadaki, M. G., Edgcomb, V. P., Sylva, S. P., Chan, E. W., Seewald, J. S., German, C. R., & Huber, J. A. (2021). Protistan grazing impacts microbial communities and carbon cycling at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118 (29): e2102674118.