LSU Adjunct Faculty and LUMCON Director Nancy Rabalais Receives MacArthur Fellowship

10/02/2012 09:27 AM

BATON ROUGE – Nancy Rabalais, LSU adjunct professor in the School of the Coast & Environment, and director of LUMCON, or the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, has been awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “Genius Grant.”


Rabalais was astonished when she received the call. “I knew about the prestigious award and have always honored it, but never thought I would ever be one. It is truly an honor,” she said. Further information, story, photos and video are available at


As a marine ecologist, she was selected for “documenting the environmental and economic consequences of hypoxic zones in the Gulf of Mexico and informing strategies for restoring the degraded waters of the Gulf and the Mississippi River basin.”


“Dr. Rabalais’ many contributions to our field are being recognized by this singular honor,” said Dean of the School of the Coast & Environment Christopher D’Elia. “She is a most worthy recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship.”


Rabalais, who collaborates on major research grants with LSU faculty and has chaired or served on committees for more than a dozen LSU graduate students, focuses her research on the effects of hypoxia, or oxygen depletion in natural waters. The Hypoxia Research Team, led by Rabalais and researchers at LSU and LUMCON has been conducting mid-summer hypoxia – or “Dead Zone” – mapping cruises since 1985. The 2011 hypoxic area was larger than the average Dead Zone spread (17,350 square kilometers), but below the size expected following record-breaking flow of the Mississippi River in the spring and summer. Read more at


“Dr. Nancy Rabalais has contributed greatly to our understanding of coastal problems in Louisiana and across the northern Gulf of Mexico,” said Donald Baltz, chair of the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences. “She has long been an international leader in hypoxia research and is extremely deserving of the extraordinary recognition of her peers and the MacArthur Foundation.”


Rabalais has also served in positions of national leadership such as chairing the National Research Council’s Ocean Studies Board and the National Sea Grant College National Sea Grant Advisory Board.  She is recipient of the 1999 NOAA Environmental Hero Award, the 1999 Blasker Award for Science and Engineering, shared with professor Gene Turner of LSU, the 12th Bostwick H. Ketchum Award from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the 17th Heinz Family Foundation Award and the 2012 Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Science. In addition, Rabalais is an AAAS Fellow, an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow and a Past President of the Estuarine Research Federation.


MacArthur Fellowship recipients receive $500,000 in no-strings-attached support over the next five years. MacArthur Fellowships come without stipulations or reporting requirements and offer Fellows unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create and explore. The unusual level of independence afforded to Fellows underscores the spirit of freedom intrinsic to creative endeavors. The work of MacArthur Fellows knows neither boundaries nor the constraints of age, place and endeavor.


Rabalais said she will put the funds back into the important research, education and outreach she conducts with her numerous colleagues, who have made their many achievements possible.  


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Ashley  Berthelot 
LSU Research Communications

Posted on Tuesday, October 2, 2012