photo of nancy rabalaisNancy Rabalais

Position: Professor and Shell Endowed Chair in Oceanography and Wetland Studies, Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences

Phone: 2255788531



Office: Room 3161, Energy, Coast and Environment Building

Bachelor's Degree(s): B.S. Texas A&I University, 1972 (Biology)

Master's Degrees(s): M.S. Texas A&I University, 1975 (Biology)

PhD: The University of Texas at Austin, 1983 (Zoology)


Research Interests

Coastal change; eutrophication and hypoxia; cumulative coastal stressors; historical reconstruction of ecosystem changes from sediments; pelagic and benthic processes; human impacts in wetland and coastal ecosystems; science policy

Classes Taught

  • 2020 – Field and Lab Techniques
  • 4038 – Scientific Writing and Collaboration
  • 4999 – Capstone for Coastal Environmental Science

Awards & Honors

  • MacArthur Fellow, 2012
  • Sustaining Fellow, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, 2017
  • Peter Benchley Award for Excellence in Science, Blue Frontier Organization, 2012
  • Rachel Carson Lecture, American Geophysical Union, 2012
  • Heinz Award, 2011
  • Clarke Prize, National Water Resources Institute, 2008
  • Ruth Patrick Award, American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, 2008
  • Ocean Studies Board, National Research Council, Member 2000-2005; Chair 2002-2005
  • B. H. Ketchum Award, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2002
  • National Associate, National Academies of Science, 2001
  • Aldo Leopold Leadership Program Fellow, 1999
  • Fellow, American Geophysical Union, 2013
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1995

Professional Affiliations and Service Activities

  • Member-at-Large, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Member, Section Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences Board 
  • Member, Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System 

Recent Publications

Ren, L., Rabalais, N.N., Turner, R.E. (2020). Effects of Mississippi River water quality on phytoplankton growth and composition in the upper Barataria Estuary, Louisiana. Hydrobiologia, 847, 1831-1850. doi:10.1007/s10750-020-04214-0

Rabalais, N., Baustian, M. M. (2020). Historical shifts in benthic infaunal diversity in the northern Gulf of Mexico since the appearance of seasonally severe hypoxia. Diversity, 12(49), 18 pp. doi:10.3390/d12020049

Rabalais, N. N., Turner, R. E. (2019). Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia: Past, Present, and Future. Limnology & Oceanography: Bulletin, 28(4), 117-124. doi:10.1002/lob.10351

Ballard, T. C., Michalak, A. M., McIsaac, G. F., Rabalais, N. N., Turner, R. E. (2019). Comment on “Legacy nitrogen may prevent achievement of water quality goals in the Gulf of Mexico". Science, 365(NA), eaau8401. doi:10.1126/science.aau8401

Du, J., Park, K., Shen, J., Zhang, Y. J., Yu, X., Ye, F., Wang, Z., Rabalais, N. N. (2019). A hydrodynamic model for Galveston Bay and the shelf in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Ocean Science, 15(NA), 951-966.

Robinson, E. M., Rabalais, N. N. (2019). The effects of oil on blue crab and periwinkle snail interactions: A mesocosm study. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 517(NA), 34-39.

Turner, R. E., Rabalais, N. N., Overton, E. B., Meyer, B. M., McClenachan, G., Swenson, E. M., Besonen, M., Parsons, M. L., Zingre, J. (2019). Oiling of the continental shelf and coastal marshes over eight years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Environmental Pollution, 252(NA), 1367-137.

Gilles, L., Thrash, J. C., Rabalais, N. N., Mason, O. U. (2019). Extent of the annual Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone influences microbial community structure. PLoS\S ONE, 14(4), e0209055.

Matli, V. R. R., Fang, S., Guinness, J. ,., Rabalais, N. N., Craig, J. K., Daniel, O. R. (2018). A space-time geostatistical assessment of hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Environmental Science & Technology, 52(NA), 12484-12493. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.8b03474

Wang, H., Hu, X., Rabalais, N. N., Brandes, J. N. (2018). Drivers of oxygen consumption in the northern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic waters – A stable carbon isotope perspective. Geophysical Research Letters, 45(NA), 10,528–10,538.

Breitburg, D., Co-Authors, M., Rabalais, N. N. (2018). Ocean deoxygenation – Causes and consequences in a changing world. Science, 59(eaam7240).

Rabalais, N. N., Smith, L. M., Turner, R. E. (2018). The Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Gulf of Mexico shelf hypoxia. Continental Shelf Research, 152, 98-107.

Baustian, M. M., Bargu, S., Morrison, W., Sexton, C., Rabalais, N. N. (2018). The polychaete, Paraprionospio pinnata, is a likely vector of domoic acid to the benthic food web in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Harmful Algae, 79((2018)), 44-49.

Turner, R.E., Rabalais, N., Justić, D. (2017). Bottom-water temperature in summer on the northern Gulf of Mexico continental shelf from 1985 to 2015.

Price, A. M., Baustian, M. M., Turner, R. E., Rabalais, N., Chmura, G. L. (2017). Dinoflagellate cysts track eutrophication in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Estuaries and Coasts.

X. H., Li, Q., Huang, W.-j., Chen, B., Cai, W.-j., Rabalais, N., Turner, E. (2017). Eutrophication, storms and benthic respiration—a case study on carbonate chemistry in a traditional hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Alvarez-torres, P., Rabalais, N., Piña Guti`errez, J.M., Padrón López, R.M. (2017). Research and the community of practice in the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosysem.

Hu, X., Cai, W.-J., Rabalais, N., Xue, J. (2016). Coupled oxygen and dissolved inorganic carbon dynamics in coastal ocean and its use as a potential indicator for detecting water column oil degradation. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 129, 311–318.

Thrash, J. C., Seitz, K. W., Baker, B. J., Temperton, B., Gillies, L. E., Rabalais, N., Henrissat, B., Mason, O. U. (2016). Decoding bacterioplankton metabolism in the northern Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone. bioRxiv, 095471.

Bargu, S., Baustian, M. M., Rabalais, N., Del Rio, R., Von Korff, B., Turner, R. E. (2016). Influence of the Mississippi River on Pseudo-nitzschia spp. Abundance and Toxicity in Louisiana Coastal Waters. Estuaries and Coasts, 39(5), 1345–1356.

Price, A. M., Baustian, M. M., Turner, R. E., Rabalais, N., Chmura, G. L. (2016). Melitasphaeridium choanophorum–a living fossil dinoflagellate cyst in the Gulf of Mexico. Palynology, 1–8.

Luo, Z., Krock, B., Mertens, K. N., Price, A. M., Turner, R. E., Rabalais, N., Gu, H. (2016). Morphology, molecular phylogeny and azaspiracid profile of Azadinium poporum (Dinophyceae) from the Gulf of Mexico. Harmful Algae, 55, 56–65.

Wong, W. H., Rabalais, N., Turner, R. E. (2016). Size-dependent top-down control on phytoplankton growth by microzooplankton in eutrophic lakes. Hydrobiologia, 763(1), 97–108.

Mertens, K., Gu, H., Takano, Y., Price, A. M., Pospelova, V., Bogus, K., Versteegh, G. J., Marret, F., Turner, R. E., Rabalais, N., others (2016). The cyst-theca relation of Trinovantedinium pallidifulvum, with erection of Protoperidinium lousianensis sp. nov. and their phylogenetic position within the Conica group. Palynology.

Gillies, L. E., Thrash, J. C., deRada, S., Rabalais, N., Mason, O. U. (2015). Archaeal enrichment in the hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Environmental microbiology, 17(10), 3847–3856.

Fry, B., Justic, D., Riekenberg, P., Swenson, E. M., Turner, R. E., Wang, L., Pride, L., Rabalais, N., Kurtz, J. C., Lehrter, J. C., others (2015). Carbon dynamics on the Louisiana continental shelf and cross-shelf feeding of hypoxia. Estuaries and Coasts, 38(3), 703–721.

Liu, B., Schaider, L. A., Mason, R. P., Shine, J. P., Rabalais, N., Senn, D. B. (2015). Controls on methylmercury accumulation in northern Gulf of Mexico sediments. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 159, 50–59.

Rabotyagov, S. S., Campbell, T. D., White, M., Arnold, J. G., Atwood, J., Norfleet, M. L., Kling, C. L., Gassman, P. W., Valcu, A., Richardson, J., Rabalais, N. (2015). Cost-effective targeting of conservation investments to reduce the northern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(52), 18530–18535.

Gu, H., Luo, Z., Mertens, K. N., Price, A. M., Turner, R. E., Rabalais, N. (2015). Cyst-motile stage relationship, morphology, ultrastructure, and molecular phylogeny of the gymnodinioid dinoflagellate Barrufeta resplendens comb. nov., formerly known as Gyrodinium resplendens, isolated from the Gulf of Mexico. Journal of phycology, 51(5), 990–999.

Rabalais, N. (2015). Human impacts on fisheries across the land–sea interface. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(26), 7892–7893.

Parsons, M., Morrison, W., Rabalais, N., Turner, R., Tyre, K. (2015). Phytoplankton and the Macondo oil spill: A comparison of the 2010 phytoplankton assemblage to baseline conditions on the Louisiana shelf. Environmental Pollution, 207, 152–160.

Rabalais, N. (2014). Assessing early looks at biological responses to the Macondo event. BioScience, 69(9), 757–759.

Rabalais, N., Cai, W.-J., Carstensen, J., Conley, D. J., Fry, B., Hu, X., Quinones-Rivera, Z., Rosenberg, R., Slomp, C. P., Turner, R. E., others (2014). Eutrophication-driven deoxygenation in the coastal ocean. Oceanography, 70(1), 123-133.

Kling, C. L., Panagopoulos, Y., Rabotyagov, S. S., Valcu, A. M., Gassman, P. W., Campbell, T., White, M. J., Arnold, J. G., Srinivasan, R., Jha, M. K., others, Rabalais, N. (2014). LUMINATE: linking agricultural land use, local water quality and Gulf of Mexico hypoxia. European Review of Agricultural Economics, 41(3), 431–459.