Entry deadline nearing for $1 million dead zone challenge

September 10, 2015

Carolyn Scofield
Phone: 504-247-1443

The deadline is quickly approaching to enter Tulane University’s “Nitrogen Reduction Challenge,” an international competition that will award $1 million to the entrepreneur, inventor or researcher with the best plan to reduce hypoxic or dead zones, massive areas of oxygen-deprived water where most marine life can’t survive.

The Challenge seeks innovative and adaptable technologies that can reduce the amount of nutrients entering the world’s lakes, rivers and oceans while at the same time allowing farmers to maximize the amount of crops they grow.

Participants must submit a one-page proposal at no later than Sept. 15.

The Tulane Nitrogen Reduction Challenge is funded by Phyllis Taylor, president of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation and a member of the Board of Tulane. The challenge is one of the country’s Grand Challenges, a response to President Obama’s call for organizations, philanthropists and universities to find solutions to today’s most pressing problems.

Agricultural runoff and excess fertilizer in waterways are significant contributors to the annual problem. This year’s dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico near Louisiana is the second-largest in the world, reaching the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.

“We chose dead zones because it’s not just a New Orleans problem but it’s something that affects the entire world,” says Rick Aubry, assistant provost for Social Entrepreneurship and Community Engagement and a professor of practice at Tulane. “The dead zones affect species, ecosystems and the lives of fisher people who rely upon being able to go out every day and get the catches that they need to earn a living.”

Those with the most viable ideas will be invited to create a 20-page technical explanation including descriptions of their team, resources and capacity for implementing their proposal. Five finalists will test their proposals on a working farm during the 2016 growing season and one idea will take home the $1 million prize.

For more information, visit

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000