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Meet the Fellows / Class of 2012 MacArthur Fellow / Nancy Rabalais (with video)

Published on: 10/02/2012

Nancy Rabalais is a marine ecologist who is dedicated to documenting and mitigating the effects of hypoxic zones - aquatic areas with low dissolved oxygen levels commonly known as 'dead zones' - that have expanded dramatically in the Gulf of Mexico and many other coastal systems around the globe. Since the mid-1980s, she has led a long-term monitoring program to study the size, intensity, and seasonal occurrence of dead zones in the waters off the Louisiana continental shelf; she has also analyzed the relationship between the extent of hypoxia and the increasing quantities of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus flowing into the Gulf from the Mississippi River watershed. When concentrated in coastal waters, the nutrients from farmland fertilizer and other sources spur the growth of an overabundance of algae, the decomposition of which consumes oxygen vital to sustaining an enormous spectrum of aquatic species.

Read more at the MacArthur Foundation website.

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