Environmental Protection

Hypoxic Zones Researcher Wins 'Genius Grant'

Nancy Rabalais, marine ecologist and executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, won one of 23 new fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Nancy Rabalais, a marine ecologist who is both a professor and executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, won one of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's 2012 "genius grants," the foundation announced Oct. 1. There are 23 new MacArthur Fellows in all, and Rabalais, 62, is the second-oldest among them.

These individuals will receive $500,000 in "no-strings-attached support over the next five years," according to the announcement. "These extraordinary individuals demonstrate the power of creativity," MacArthur President Robert Gallucci said. "The MacArthur Fellowship is not only a recognition of their impressive past accomplishments, but also, more importantly, an investment in their potential for the future. We believe in their creative instincts and hope the freedom the fellowship provides will enable them to pursue unfettered their insights and ideas for the benefit of the world."

Rabalais studies the effects of hypoxic zones, the "dead zones" with low dissolved oxygen levels that occur in the Gulf of Mexico and other coastal systems. She heads a long-term monitoring program to study the size and intensity of dead zones in waters off Louisiana, according to the foundation.

The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, or LUMCON, was created in 1979 to coordinate and stimulate Louisiana's marine sciences research and education. Its primary facilities are located at the DeFelice Marine Center in Cocodrie, La., 85 miles southwest of New Orleans. LUMCON announced Sept. 27 that one of its researchers, Dr. Ed Chensey, obtained funds from the BP-funded Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative in round II of the competition for single or small collaborative investigations. His research is focused on "Defining Ecologically Relevant Sublethal Effects: How do Low Levels of Exposure to Oil and Dispersants Affect Performance and Survival of Larvae of Gulf Nekton?" Working with Dr. Ralph Portier of Louisiana State University's Department of Environmental Studies, Chensey will explore how the early live stages of ecologically and commercially important Gulf of Mexico fish and invertebrate species respond to exposures of lethal and sub-lethal levels of oil under conditions similar to those caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The foundation's Office of Grants Management is located in Chicago.

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