Dr. Nancy Rabalais, who has devoted her life to the study of dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, has been chosen for the prestigious MacArthur Fellows Program, which comes with a no-strings-attached $500,000 prize paid out over five years. The 62-year-old marine ecologist is executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Cocodrie.
The MacArthur Foundation’s stipends, often called a “genius grant,” are awarded to people “of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual and professional inclinations.” Twenty-three people were chosen for the 2012 awards, which the foundation says are not for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight and potential. In other words, a fitting award for Nancy Rabalais.
Rabalais’ research is dedicated to documenting and mitigating the effects of hypoxic zones — aquatic areas with low dissolved oxygen levels commonly known as “dead zones” — that have expanded dramatically in the Gulf of Mexico and many other coastal systems around the globe. Rabalais received her bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees from Texas A&I University in Kingsville and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas. Since 1983, she has been affiliated with the LUMS. Her scientific articles have appeared in such journals as Science, Nature, BioScience, and Biogeosciences.
According to the foundation’s website:
Since the mid-1980s, [Rabalais] has led a long-term monitoring program to study the size, intensity, and seasonal occurrence of dead zones in the waters off the Louisiana continental shelf; she has also analyzed the relationship between the extent of hypoxia and the increasing quantities of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus flowing into the Gulf from the Mississippi River watershed.
When concentrated in coastal waters, the nutrients from farmland fertilizer and other sources spur the growth of an overabundance of algae, the decomposition of which consumes oxygen vital to sustaining an enormous spectrum of aquatic species. Over the past three decades, Rabalais’s studies have evolved to include collaborations with researchers from many different disciplines and have used methods from physical oceanography, hydrology, geochemistry, and paleoecology to make ever more precise assessments of hypoxia dynamics and their impact on a range of fragile, interconnected ecosystems.
In addition to her scientific contributions, Rabalais has played a prominent role in informing strategies to restore the degraded waters of the Gulf by reducing nutrient pollution from urban and agricultural runoff upstream and has focused national attention on the environmental and economic consequences of large-scale eutrophication. Her outreach efforts have included lecturing throughout the United States about the effects of hypoxia on those far from its waters, testifying before Congress, and working with federal, state, and tribal agencies on an action plan for improving water quality in the Mississippi River basin.
While weathering the destruction of her research facility in catastrophic hurricanes and treacherous diving conditions due to oil spills, Rabalais continues to deepen our understanding of this profound oceanographic problem that threatens the well-being of the entire Gulf region.
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APR 15 Blogger CB Forgotston is writing in this post about the newest hire by Gov. Bobby Jindal, a press secretary whose only means of contact is (apparently) Twitter. (Yeah, because that worked so good for Kyle.) CB has done a little digging on the lady, but wants more info -- and he's not getting it from the source, because she won't return his twits. Twerps. Uh, tweets.
APR 15 Blogger Elliott Stonecipher has his say on the McAllister mess in this post on Forward Now. Looks like the architects of the plan to oust McAllister are getting a little blow-back, Stonecipher opines, and it reminds him of an old cliche about revenge.
APR 15 Not one to walk past a golden opportunity, Democrat John Bel Edwards says his piece in this Picayune post on the GOP's issue du jour. The hypocrisy of the GOP calling on McAllister to resign and staying silent on Vitter is so massive there's not even a word for it, Edwards says, and so he came up with his own: hypo-hypocrisy.
APR 15 Here's Grist's take on the so-called kalegate issue over in NOLA. If you've forgotten, it all started when a Dutch actress said that New Orleans is not cosmopolitan because you can't get kale there (Sister, you can get kale at the Wal-Mart in Lafayette. Where you shopping?) This post, by Heather Hansman, also gets into the larger (class/elitism) issues brought to light by this discussion.
APR 15 Here's the latest poll done on the Congressional race over in Baton Rouge that is distinguished by the presence of one of Louisiana's most famous felons, reported by LaPolitics. This poll (done by a GOP candidate in the race) says that a majority of those contacted don't want Edwards to be a Congressman. That's a reverse of another poll done a few weeks ago, but hey, poll results like Louisiana weather -- give 'em a few minutes, they'll change.
APR 15 It's always entertaining to read what white American men have to say about diversity, and this post by blogger Rod Dreher is no different. He's addressing a column by a Harvard student about the lack of meaningful diversity at that university. As expected, Dreher disagrees, and gives us a lecture on how progressives are lying to themselves (and everybody else).
APR 15 Here's the New York Times story on the McAllister (ahem) affair. Giving us the story briefly, it then focuses on the words of regular West Monroeans who were interviewed by the venerable publication. The bottom line? The hypocrisy of the GOP's contempt for McAllister and silence on Vitter is not lost on these people, and it didn't take the writer long to pick up on the racial differences of that (virtually segregated) community.
APR 15 A year after Gov. Jindal sold (wups - privatized) our public hospital system, some of these deals still don't have federal Medicaid-Medicare approval, and nobody has any answer as to what will happen if that approval never comes, AP's Melinda Deslatte writes in this post.
APR 14 Blogger Bob Mann writes about Louisiana's relationship with Big Oil in this post. For years, our government has functioned as "a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Oil," Mann writes, and likens the relationship to "traumatic bonding." That's the tie that develops between the victim and the perpetrator in an abusive relationship. It's an interesting read.
APR 14 Steve Singiser writes in this post on the Daily Kos Elections blog that "outsider" status probably got Vance McAllister elected last fall, but it's going against him now. The same GOP that stayed silent when Sen. David Vitter's name (and possibly other personal information) was found in the little black book of a prostitute is now calling on McAllister to resign for kissing a staffer. (OK, for getting caught kissing a staffer) It's all politics, Singiser writes: they can look morally superior and get rid of a problem at the same time, he says.
APR 14 Here's an interesting post in The Lens about t-shirt shops in the French Quarter. If you haven't heard, apparently there have been police raids on purveyors of horrifying things like t-shirts. One wonders how the police have time for this type of thing when a few miles away young people are dying in the streets -- but we digress. As CW Cannon writes, this debate "reeks of class bias." No kidding.
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