Foremost marine biologist sharing research on stunning rise of ocean “dead zones”

By Costa Maragos Posted: January 24, 2018 6:00 a.m.

Dr. Nancy Rabalais to share her expertise on ocean dead zones and their detrimental effect on the environment.
Dr. Nancy Rabalais to share her expertise on ocean dead zones and their detrimental effect on the environment. Photo Courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation

The campus community is invited to hear and meet one of the world’s foremost marine biologists, whose research has brought greater attention to concerns over the so-called “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico and worldwide.

A dead zone is characterized by the lack of oxygen in ocean bottom waters, leading to the destruction of local food webs and major losses to the fishing industry.

Dr. Zoraida J. Quiñones-Rivera is Research Associate at the U of R’s Institute of Environmental Change and Society (IECS).
Dr. Nancy Rabalais is Professor and Shell Oil Endowed Chair in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Rabalais is the featured speaker at the Biology Department seminar on Friday, January 26 at 2:30 p.m. in Classroom Building (CL 127).

Rabalais has a personal connection to the U of R. She was PhD co-supervisor and mentor of Dr. Zoraida J. Quiñones-Rivera at LSU, who is now a Research Associate at IECS, and a friend and colleague to Dr. Björn Wissel, Adjunct Professor in the Biology Department and IECS Associate Director.
bjoern Wissel
Dr. Björn Wissel is Adjunct Professor in the Biology Department and IECS Associate Director. 

Wissel and Quiñones-Rivera have published articles with Rabalais. They invited her  to visit IECS to continue their collaborations on a project to better understand the effects of the dead zone on the carbon cycle.

“Nancy is an outstanding researcher and role model. Her work has been instrumental in advancing natural sciences and identifying human-caused environmental problems in coastal oceans worldwide,” says Quiñones-Rivera. “Her relentless efforts in outreach and communication have resulted in major management and policy changes to limit detrimental effects to the environment. Sharing her extensive scientific expertise and experience in science communication will be invaluable for the U of R community.”

Rabalais has dedicated her career to researching and characterizing the extent of ecological damage of the “dead zone” along the Louisiana and Texas coastlines, and has linked agricultural practices in the Mississippi River watershed as its major cause.

Rabalais’ research has been extensively published in peer-reviewed journals.

Earlier this month, Science Journal revealed the stunning rise of dead zones in ocean waters around the world. Rabalais co-authored the report with other scientists.
“Over the years, this work has also addressed the impacts of climate change, hurricanes, oil spills and alternative agricultural management practices. To achieve this task she has brought together an outstanding team of diverse scientists who now investigates dead zones and its causes worldwide,” says Wissel.

Rabalais’ work has been recognized with numerous prestigious awards and honours.

Event:    Department of Biology Seminar Series
Date:      Friday, January 26
Time:      2:30 p.m.
Location: Classroom Building (CL 127)