Nancy Rabalais

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Nancy N. Rabalais is an American marine ecologist. Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, she is the daughter of Kathryn Charlotte Preusch and Stephen Anthony Nash, a mechanical engineer, and the second of four children.[1] She researches dead zones in the marine environment and is an expert in eutrophication and nutrient pollution.

Rabalais earned her B.S. in 1972 and her M.S. in 1975 from Texas A&M University–Kingsville. Rabalais worked at Padre Island National Seashore in 1975 and began as a research assistant at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, Port Aransas Marine Laboratory for 4 years. She began further graduate studies in 1979, working towards her Ph.D., where she studied fiddler crabs endemic to South Texas. She received her Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983.[2]

Since 1985, Rabalais has studied the Gulf of Mexico's dead zone off the coast of Louisiana, the largest hypoxic zone in the United States. Along with two other researchers, she linked hypoxic zones in the Gulf with Mississippi River estuaries in 1985 through ocean mapping oxygen levels. This work was highlighted on the covers of BioScience in 1991 and Nature in 1994.[3]

She joined the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) in 1983 and, with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), identified a substantial hypoxic zone that had been affecting shrimpers.[4]

Rabalais has testified to Congress on the problem of nutrient pollution from agricultural and storm water runoff.

She was the president of the nonprofit Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation from 1997 to 1999.[5]

She referred to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill as an "oilmageddon".[6]

She was the executive director of LUMCON from 2005-2016, where she was also a professor. She became a Professor/Shell Endowed Chair in Oceanography and Coastal Studies, Louisiana State University, in 2016, where she is still employed. She leads annual research surveys to determine the size of the dead zone. She is also director of the Coastal Waters Consortium. She has chaired the Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council.[7]

Rabalais was the recipient of an NOAA Environmental Hero Award[8] and Aldo Leopold Leadership Program Fellowship in 1999,[9] the 17th Annual Heinz Award (with special focus on the environment) in 2011[10][11] and MacArthur Fellowship in 2012.[12]

In 2012 she and several colleagues started the Coastal Waters Consortium, which focused on the effects of the BP oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystems and food webs within.[13]

Rabalais has been published in the journals Biogeosciences, BioScience, Nature, and Science.

She is married to R. Eugene Turner, an LSU colleague whom she has published work with before, including their book Coastal Hypoxia: Consequences for Living Resources and Ecosystems.[14] His work focuses inshore, while hers is in the waters of the Gulf. They have a daughter, Emily.[15]


  1. ^ "Profile on Rabalais by A.J.S. Rayl | Nobel Conference - 2009". Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  2. ^ "Coastal Command | The Scientist Magazine®". The Scientist. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  3. ^ "Coastal Command | The Scientist Magazine®". The Scientist. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  4. ^ Nuwer, Rachel (October 15, 2012). "Q and A: Tracking a Worrisome Dead Zone". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Mexico, Committee on the Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Mississippi Canyon-252 Oil Spill on Ecosystem Services in the Gulf of; Board, Ocean Studies; Studies, Division on Earth and Life; Council, National Research (2013-12-20). An Ecosystem Services Approach to Assessing the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. National Academies Press. ISBN 9780309288453.
  6. ^ "Dr. Nancy Rabalais: Troubled Waters in the Gulf of Mexico". Smithsonian Ocean Portal. March 29, 2011.
  7. ^ Seideman, Yael Calhoun, series editor ; foreword by David (2005). Water Pollution. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers. p. 131. ISBN 978-1-4381-0232-0.
  8. ^ "NOAA Outlook - Earth Day (Environmental Heroes)". Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  9. ^ "Aldo Leopold Leadership Program selects fellows | News and Research Communications | Oregon State University". Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  10. ^ "The Heinz Awards: Nancy Rabalais". The Heinz Awards. The Heinz Awards. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  11. ^ "Gulf champion Nancy Rabalais gets her due: An editorial". The Times-Picayune. September 19, 2011.
  12. ^ Schleifstein, Mark (October 5, 2012). "Louisiana "dead zone" scientist wins $500,000 MacArthur "Genius Grant"". The Times-Picayune.
  13. ^ "Information | CWC". Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  14. ^ Rabalais, Nancy N. (2001). Coastal Hypoxia: Consequences for Living Resources and Ecosystems - Wiley Online Library. Coastal and Estuarine Studies. 58. doi:10.1029/ce058. ISBN 978-0-87590-272-2.
  15. ^ "Profile on Rabalais by A.J.S. Rayl | Nobel Conference - 2009". Retrieved 2016-02-22.

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