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Tulane answers president's "challenge" with $1M prize to combat dead zones

Then just a presidential hopeful, Barack Obama spoke to Tulane students in Feb. 2008
Then just a presidential hopeful, Barack Obama spoke to Tulane students in Feb. 2008
Mario Tama, Getty Images, Feb. 7, 2008

Tulane Univ. announced today that it is tapping the know-how of entrepreneurs, researchers and inventors worldwide by offering $1 million for the best solution to combat dead zones both here in the Gulf of Mexico as well as in lakes and oceans worldwide.

Water Innovations: Reducing Hypoxia, Restoring our Water” is part of President Obama’s "Grand Challenge", which calls for organizations, philanthropists and universities to pinpoint and pursue pressing issues.

In a press release issued today, Tulane spelled out how it intends to answer the president's call.

In so doing, Tulane's Grand Challenge hopes to illuminate and help reverse the amount of hypoxia, or oxygen-depleted water, caused by fertilizers and nutrients spilling into waterways and creating algae blooms that effectively suck out all the oxygen. This past summer, NOAA reported that the record-setting Gulf of Mexico dead zone would be the size of Connecticut.

After the BP oil spill, readers may recall that amidst the talk of damage to the ecosystem including the water column and marshes, Gulf residents had to contend with the annual plague of dead zones. Effects include fishermen being unable to sell their daily catches and residents losing the joy of recreating on our beaches.

Along with coastal erosion, dead zones remain a niggling environmental culprit in the Gulf, threatening marine life and in turn, the quality of life for all who reside here.

The grand prize will be funded by Phyllis Taylor, president of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, Tulane says. The university's prize partners include Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey in the upper basin of the Mississippi River and La. Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain at its mouth.

The competition will begin with a 30-day period to submit comments regarding the prize and letters of interest to compete at tulane.edu/tulaneprize.

For more information, please click here.